Contact Us

UK Fish And Chip Chains Face A Battering

The lemon is a fancy touch ... otherwise, traditional fish and chips

If you can do it with pizza or falafel or tortillas, why not traditional British fish and chips?

This is a question that has been puzzling fast-food operators for decades. Most varieties of street food can be turned into scalable, corporate propositions. But vinegar-soaked, salt-and-pepper-strewn, paper-wrapped fish and chips has defied private equity investors and their grand nationwide plans. The overwhelming bulk of the sector is run by small family-owned independents.

Now Harry Ramsden's, the 91-year-old pioneer of branded chip shops, is reviving plans for nationwide expansion, and they face a battering from a new rival.

Ramsden's is pushing into the franchise sector, looking for locations in around 30 UK towns and cities, Franchise4u reports.

The company, owned since 2010 by Birmingham-based Boparan Restaurant Group, has been investing in menus and interiors.

Ramsden's has had an out of the frying pan, into the fire history. Nationwide expansion in the 1990s was followed by a row-back then a rethink, then the business was sold. The original shop in Leeds closed in 2011 and recent attempts to re-open the business in Birmingham did not last long.

Harry Ramsden's now has around 35 UK outlets, predominantly in Welcome Break motorway service stations.

How the Fryday units will look

Is Ramsden's heading for another battering? A Manchester-based property consultancy has been appointed to advise a new rival to Ramsden's.

Acting on behalf of Fryday Fish Limited, CBRE’s Retail team in Manchester has completed the first retail acquisition for a new fish and chip restaurant concept at Xscape in Castleford, West Yorkshire. The new brand, Fryday, is set to serve up a whole new flavour to Britain’s best loved takeaway by offering smoked fish and skin-on chips made to a traditional Irish recipe. 

CBRE has also been instructed to identify key UK restaurant sites across the North of England for the brand to roll out the new concept, including a flagship restaurant in central Leeds set to open at the end of this year.

Fryday is the brainchild of Dublin-born entrepreneur Andrew Daly, who aims to disrupt the fish-and-chip takeaway sector with a simple concept of serving classic fish and chips with an Irish twist.

The Fryday brand was introduced to Londoners in Trafalgar Square on St Patrick’s Day this year in a mobile shipping container. The Northern expansion plan grows from the Trafalgar Square experiment.

Fryday plans to launch an online ordering service to include its own mobile app, which will enable customers to access a click-and-collect service or receive Fryday fish and chips to their door wherever they are based in the UK.

According to the Welsh novelist and Nobel literature nominee Saunders Lewis, fish and chips are the occasion for yet another of the tragic mistakes the English frequently make about their history. They have muddled the name of this vital national institution by focussing too much on the meat and not enough on the vegetables. Fish shops should really be known as Potato Taverns, Lewis suggested.

What the English, or Irish, think of this Welsh idea, is not recorded.