According to the National Federation of Fish Friers (NFFF), there are presently over 10,500 specialist fish and chip shops in the country, surpassing more than any major fast food brand. Indeed, its historical relationship to British industriousness, entrepreneurialism, and fighting spirit can never be understated, even across history.

Fish and chips exploded during the industrial revolution as railways linked the coast and cities’, fuelling the hungry workers of England’s manufacturing towns. And during both the first and second world wars, the dish was made exempt from rationing by Lloyd George and Winston Churchill respectively; such was its importance to national morale.

Currently, Brits eat an enormous 382 million fish and chip meals every year, with 167 million of that figure accounted for by portions of fish and chips. They use around 10 percent of all the UK’s potato crop and 30 percent of all white fish. The industry generates an estimated £1.2bn every year.

Also note there is even an Oscar’s of the fish and chip world – the National Fish & Chip Awards, which assesses the country’s chippies on responsible sourcing, menu diversification, customer service, and quality. Given this, owning a fish and chip shop seems a sure-fire way to capitalize on the UK’s bountiful coastal waters and ravenous appetites.

Even though protected fish stocks and other economic factors have pushed up the cost of the basic ingredients, fish and chips remain affordable – and there is still a good profit on every portion of fish and chips sold. An HMRC estimate suggests that you might expect gross profits of around 50 percent.

Coupled with the rising number of people with busy lifestyles, and growing demand for takeaway food, it simply means that there are plenty of opportunities for new fish and chip shops, and for turning around existing businesses.

Training is also available for newcomers to the industry, with the National Federation of Fish Friers offering short courses in fish frying and customer service skills but if you have experience of running a café, coffee shop, or takeaway, you are expected to be aware of the key requirements of customer service, food hygiene and health & safety. You may also be aware of the funding you will need.

There are two ways to become a fish and chip shop owner. Buying an existing fish and chip shop could be the simplest route to owning a successful business. Buying an established fish and chip shop may provide you with a sound foundation to build a highly successful business with some investment in re-equipment and marketing.

What Does It Take to Open a Fish and Chip Shop?

Setting up a new fish and chip business may also be ideal. If you can find a suitable location, perhaps serving a new development, or a town center that may be undergoing a revival, you may have the basis of a successful venture, although set-up costs may be high, as will the risk that your shop might not find sufficient customers.

The first step when designing or building new food premises or to make changes to an existing one is to develop or obtain existing plans. This allows the local government to assess the proposed premises before construction or fit-out commences. This will surely include a site plan, floor plan, sectional elevation drawing to show all fittings and equipment, hydraulic plans for plumbing, and a mechanical exhaust ventilation drawing.

Everything in the plan needs to be specified to allow appropriate assessment. Also included is the layout of all equipment, benches, fixtures, and fittings. Where seating is provided for diners, it will include the number of square meters of floor space available for dining and the number of persons to be catered for in this area.

When starting this business, it is often the planning phase that gives new business owners the most trouble. The amount of expertise and knowledge required to effectively prepare all these documents is often overwhelming and most entrepreneurs seek help from professionals.

These professionals can handle the entire project lifecycle from site selection and design through to statutory approvals and procurement while managing costs and analysis, taking away the headache of starting a new business.

Estimated Cost to Fit Out a Fish and Chip Shop in UK

If it wasn’t a chip shop previously, the venue has to be modified for two things: a safe, legal operation, and a welcoming place that people love coming back to. However, the cost of achieving this purpose will vary depending on many factors. These factors include;

  1. Location and Venue

First, you have to understand that location is very crucial. For a busy town center in a big city, a venue could be £500,000. Compare this to the £20,000-£25,000 range in smaller, less densely populated, and affluent areas. In either case, you are looking at £20,000+ in order to secure the space.

Scout around for the very best buildings, and conduct market research so you can assess how much footfall you are likely to see (and therefore what return on investment you can expect). Then you will have to ensure the venue has a ventilation system that is cleaned and checked by an expert. The price for this will depend on the surrounding architecture, which can make it tougher to fit.

This could spell the difference between several thousand pounds and over £100,000. You will also have to consider seating, counters, and other design aspects. A countertop can start from as much as £500. You will need a seat or stool arrangements too, which cost around £15 per item.

Are you doing table service? Each table adds roughly £30 at the lower end and £50 for more traditional models. Price up your toilets, utilities, and drainage as well! Chip shops must use grease filter traps to prevent fat from blocking your pipes, for example – each costing £500-£900 on average.

  1. Equipment

Have it in mind that a great frying range is very important if you want to stay competitive in the local market. The more you spend on fryers for launch, the better your reputation is likely to get. It is often recommended that you spend over £1,000 per unit for this very reason. Nonetheless, a four-pan fish fryer might set you back £7,000 alone. Some carry display counters – others don’t, and will incur an extra cost. Additionally, consider other tools such as:

  • A potato chipper (£400-£2,500)
  • A fish freezer (£2,000-£3,000)
  • A soft drinks fridge (£300-£800)
  • Knives, spatulas, and prep supplies
  1. Supplier

According to reports, Cod and haddock are the most popular types of fish served up at chippies but consider what the demand is in your area. It is very necessary to support, where you can, sustainable fishing practices. In 2006, the survival of the cod was at risk as a result of over-fishing.

In response, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) introduced the ‘Blue Tick’ for sustainability which can be awarded at any stage of the supply chain. Note that a sustainable supplier means you are doing your part to help the environment and also ensuring the longevity of your business.

Without any fish, you won’t be able to run a fish and chip shop! Fish suppliers often sell other ingredients you might need for your shop. From potatoes and pies to batter and oil, if you do enough research you may be able to find a supplier that can give you everything you need to set up shop.

Once you have decided on an oil supplier, you need to find a company that will take away your used oil. Pouring hot, used oil down the drain can attract vermin and could result in fines too. Some companies will collect your oil for you and then recycle it into renewable biodiesel.

  1. Branding

There is a long tradition in the UK of chippies putting puns to good use. Classics include the Frying Scotsman, Frying Nemo, Good Fridays, and The Codfather. Note that the playful name might just set you apart from your competitors and could even result in some added PR coverage as some customers may take a photo of your name for social media.

  1. Rules and Regulations

Fish and chips shops don’t have any specific rules and regulations to adhere to but they are expected to follow health and safety legislation. Here are a few regulations you should look into:

  • Registering your business with your local authority (which you can do here).
  • Food safety and food hygiene certificates.
  • A health and safety policy – This is a legal requirement if you have five or more employees. But as you work with hot oil on a daily basis, creating your own health and safety policy will give you an idea of what to do in an emergency even if you have fewer than five employees.

The total amount needed to fit out a fish and chip shop – including venue, branding, inventory, and equipment – will depend on whether you already own a chip store, or if you are buying one for the first time, or are merely carrying out a revamp. But at the very least, expect to start at £50,000 or so and go from there.

Conclusion

The traditional fish and chip shop remains a favorite in the high street – and that means exciting opportunities for a profitable business. Launching or refreshing a fish and chip shop is no small task. In fact, the associated costs can often take business owners by surprise.

That is why more and more entrepreneurs are using specialist finance to plug the gap. The cost of kitting out a fish and chip shop can be high. The actual costs will depend on the factors mentioned above and the scale of your operation

Ajaero Tony Martins