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Starting your own fish and chips business!

You’re in Great Britain, just pick anywhere you like, and you’re hungry. What are you going to eat? Well… fish and chips must be an option, right? Firmly on the Great British menu for over a century if it isn’t available somethings wrong. Maybe there is a gap where you are, or maybe there isn’t and there is room for more of Britain’s favourite dish, maybe starting your own fish and chips business is the answer. If you love food and you’ve always wanted to run your own business, starting a chippy can be a quick, easy, and effective route. Here’s why the fish and chip shops remain a lucrative opportunity for British business owners today.

For the love of fish and chips

In Britain we love very few things as much as visiting a fish and chips shop for the perfect comfort food. Whether it’s wrapped to take away or we are taking our time to sit in and enjoy in a classic British café, there’s nothing better than golden delicious crispy battered fish and piping hot chips to fill that gap in our bellies.

Now we know Chinese and Indian take-aways and restaurants have been competing for the number one spot as Britain’s favourite food recently, but our appetite for fresh succulent fish and chips lives on. British consumers eat 382 million meals of fish and chips each year, costing a whopping £1.2 billion.

Starting your own fish and chips business

A brief history lesson

Fish and potatoes were not rationed during World War One, so the unassuming fish and chip restaurants flourished in popularity. Come the 1930s, there were more than 3,500 fish and chip shops in the UK. Since the end of the Second World War, the food landscape in Great Britain has changed in many ways and they’ve since grown to approximately 11,000 shops across the country.

Currently many businesses are family-owned independents, with some now being passed on to the 2nd and 3rd generations and are the focal point of many communities. It’s estimated that these businesses use around 10% of the UK’s potato crop and approximately 30% of all white fish sold in the UK and the industry generates a turnover of around £1.2 billion every year. A total of 62% of fish sold in fish and chip shops is cod and 25% is haddock. Strictly enforced regulations which are stringent and often science-based have ensured good management of cod and haddock stocks in the UK & EU fishing waters.

*stats according to

Top of the Pops

Starting your own fish and chips business now? Even considering the implications of Covid, the future looks bright for fast food restaurants. In fact, Covid has instigated a sharp acceleration in the way fast food shops and restaurants have embraced technology and diversified their business models thus allowing for more sustainability for them from a business point of view.

Going back to 2018, Statista found that there were more than 26,000 fast food outlets in the UK. With people living increasingly busy lives, and the options for delivery and the diversity of cuisine brought about by Covid the desire to grab fast food is greater than ever. And with a bag of chips named as the favourite item of food in the Takeaway Economy report commissioned by Just Eat, starting a fish and chips restaurant could be a risk worth taking.

A bit of what you need

With most fish and chips restaurants running on a purely takeaway basis, the commercial space required is smaller than ever, you don’t necessarily need to rent or buy a large space to accommodate seating and table service. You only need a modest size store and a handful of staff to keep everything running.

When starting your own fish and chips business getting the products and ingredients is as easy as ever in the UK with suppliers such as ourselves, Friars Pride and VA Whitley. Between the 3 virtually the whole of Great Britain is covered from a supply sense. Furthermore, you’re never more than 70 miles away from the sea. Meaning freshly caught fish is easily transportable in a day. You only need a few more ingredients – potatoes, oil, mushy peas, vinegar, salt, and sauces – and all of these, including the fish can be bought in bulk from Henry Colbeck, Friars Pride and VA Whitley. Keeping on top of supplies is relatively easy with so few ingredients to manage. All you need to do is find a reliable supplier and build a strong relationship.

You don’t need to be a professional chef, in fact even if you’ve never worked in the food and beverage industry. You can get trained up on using the equipment quickly, and if you’re serving good quality enjoyable food customers will come for that. They’re not opting for fish and chips based on Rosette stars. Some forms of training take a matter of days to give you the skills and knowledge required for making great fish and chips. Simply perfect what you’re offering to attract and retain customers.

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Top tips

If you’re interested in starting your own fish and chips business, here are the key things we suggest thinking about to make it work.

Location location location – seaside resorts are often a sure-fire way to make a fish and chip shop business a success. Full of customers looking for that traditional fish and chips to make their day on the coast complete. Starting a new fish and chip outlet overlooking the sea is likely to go down well, but you are likely to pay a premium for a location like this. For less costly start-up costs look for locations with families and senior citizens who tend to be the most habitual eaters when it comes to fish and chips.

As with opening a business of any kind, always look out for competition. Avoid areas where there is another successful fish and chips shop that residents love. Always have your target customers in mind, if you want to set up a high-quality store, look at high-end areas. Or if you’re looking for a more mid-range establishment, choose middle or lower-income areas.

Tools of the trade

Starting your own fish and chips business It is common practice to take over an already established fish and chips restaurant, coming with, hopefully, the benefit of having all the equipment you need. Do be sure to check everything is in working order before making any commitments. However, if you’re starting from scratch, you’ll need to buy quite a bit of equipment. Factor in the costs of getting a commercial fryer, fridges, freezer, chip scuttle and heated food display (to tempt your customers) and potato peeling machine (if you want to save your hands and you’re not buying pre-cut chips).

Lots of fish and chips shops now have point of sale (POS) systems for taking orders and payment. They give you a clearer idea of the incomings and outgoings, helping you to keep on top of your stock. If you prefer, you could use a simple cash register and have a card machine. Either way, you’ll need a simple and quick way of taking money.

Supply issues, you’ve come to the right place

Of course, you’ll need a reliable supplier to make sure you’re never left without precious stock. Look for accredited fish suppliers – the National Federation of Fish Friers (NFFF) has a directory of suppliers you can research, and you’ll find Henry Colbeck, Friars Pride and VA Whitley all there. Plus, if you’re committing to only serving sustainably sourced fish then Henry Colbeck, Friars Pride and VA Whitley all tick that box to. In fact, it’s generally advised to look for sustainably sourced fish to make sure our seas will continue to provide the fish you need to fun your business for years.

As well as fish, potatoes and oil, you’ll also need to source the serving materials all available from Henry Colbeck, Friars Pride and VA Whitley. Due to hygiene reasons, you can no longer serve fish and chips in newspaper. So, remember to look for alternatives like a cone, carton or tray. With more people now searching for plastic-free packaging, you might like to bear this in mind if this will influence your customer’s buying decisions.

What’s in a name

The Great British small business owner is renowned for selecting novel, witty and humorous business names and the fish and chips businesses are probably most so. Think of something creative to make your fish and chips shop memorable, here are some we have come across that we like, they stuck with us! The Perfect Catch in Dereham Norfolk, Fryz Fish and Chips in Peterborough or New Cod on the Block in Sheffield.

Invest in attractive, professional eye-catching signage and branding to attract customers. Be sure it clearly communicates what you do, ‘Fish & Chips’ in legible striking lettering to make it instantly clear what you’re all about. Couple the rest of the design and branding with the kind of market you’re targeting.

Some of that boring stuff

You will need to conform to food hygiene standards and look into getting a certificate as soon as possible.  With five or more employees it is a legal requirement to have a health and safety policy, it’s recommended that you have one even if you don’t have five employees.

As with every business you need insurance. For fish and chips shops, the ones you should definitely look into are public and product liability, contents insurance, cover for any money left on the premises, business interruption insurance and employer’s liability. You may like to consider other policies, so it’s worth getting advice.

A fish and chips shop can be a rewarding food service business to run. Once you’re set up and enticing customers, you will soon have a loyal fan base visiting you on a regular basis.

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Well there is a bit to ponder on there so if you’re thinking of starting your own fish and chips business give us a shout, we’d love to be your supplier!

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