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CONTENTS NOVEMBER 2022

prepare for changing habits The last few years have taught us a lot and one of the biggest lessons has been the need to change. I think it’s something our industry has actually become extremely adept at now, and it’s what is going to get shops through the next year or so because customer habits are undoubtedly on the turn. Consumers are cutting back on the frequency that they eat out and how much they spend when they do eat out, but it’s important to also remember that those social habits are still there. People do still want to eat out or order in a takeaway and are cutting back on other things too in order to do so. Even though it might now be a twice-a-month treat rather than once-a-week.

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NEWS

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WHAT’S NEW

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BIG INTERVIEW

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EDITOR’s ARTICLE

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30 MINUTES WITH

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EMPLOYMENT 33

SPOTLIGHT

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INDUSTRY NEWS 11.22

FISH AND CHIP SHOPS WIN AT MSC SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD AWARDS Three fish and chip shops collected top awards for seafood sustainability the annual MSC Sustainable Seafood Awards. Devon restaurant chain Rockfish and Scottish fish and chip shop The Bay were joint winners of MSC UK Foodservice Champion of the Year, while Fish and Chips at Weston Grove in Chester won MSC UK Social Media Hero of the Year for the personal and creative nature of their social media content. The awards, sponsored by Seafood Scotland, were held at the Aberdeen Maritime Museum in recognition of the region’s importance for sustainable fishing and the city’s strong links to the fishing industry. Direct Seafoods won Fresh Fish Foodservice Supplier of the Year while Brakes and M&J took home Foodservice Wholesaler of the Year. This year’s awards were handmade from crushed mussel and scallop shells from MSC certified fisheries in Shetland.

"SORT OUT THIS DUCKING SHAMBLES" DEMANDS DOWNING STREET DUCK

Online takeaway platform Foodhub erected a giant inflatable duck outside Downing Street earlier this month to call on the incoming prime minister to ‘sort out this ducking shambles’ – after food costs spiralled under Liz Truss’ short reign. The eight-metre-tall red duck was raised in protest against government inaction over rising costs and the takeaway firm has demanded the incoming PM confronts the escalating issue head-on. According to data released last month, food prices have risen at their fastest rate in over 40 years – in an event that is wreaking havoc on UK restaurants and takeaways. Foodhub CEO Ardian Mula says the issue deteriorated significantly under Liz Truss and has called upon new prime minister Rishi Sunak to urgently get a grip on the issue. In September, the price of food jumped by 14.6%, the biggest rise since 1980. Items like bread, meat, and dairy have all been affected the most. The price of importing produce and ingredients has also increased, due to the pound’s recent decline against foreign currencies. This comes in addition to the already rising cost of energy, and the ongoing cost of living crisis. In August, an industry survey found menu prices had risen 9% in the last year – as restaurants were forced to pass on rising costs to customers. At the time, industry leaders predicted that menu prices would further increase by an additional 6% over the next 12 months. However, given the economy’s recent deterioration, and continued political uncertainty, this figure will likely be higher. Ardian Mula, Foodhub CEO, said: “Restaurants and takeaways are currently under an extreme amount of pressure. Costs in every department are rising. “Not only are owners worried about how they are going to light their restaurants and power their kitchens, but they are now worried about the price of food. “Kitchen staples, such as meat, cheese, and bread have been hit the hardest. These are key ingredients in one of the nation’s favourite takeaway meals – the burger. “Some costs are already being passed onto customers, however, that can only go so far. Everyone is struggling due to the cost-of-living crisis, and consumers can’t foot the whole bill of these increases. “Britain has a great takeaway and restaurant tradition. This is now under threat. “Something must change, and more help must be offered by the government.”

INCREASE IN INFLATION COULD PUSH UP BUSINESS RATES Fish and chip shops could face considerable rises in business rates next year following a surge in inflation, industry body UKHospitality has warned. It comes as inflation hit 10.1% in September, up from 9.9% in August. With the September inflation figures traditionally used to set tax changes and rates for the following year, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls says there is a real risk that hospitality businesses will face an enormous cliff-edge in April if these numbers are used to hike the business rates tax level. Such an increase at the same time as the risk of business rates reliefs ending could prove fatal with many "fighting to survive the winter". Kate adds: "With hospitality inflation contributing heavily to the overall inflation rate, we now risk an inflationary spiral where our higher costs lead to higher taxes which lead to even higher prices. “As well as needing to reform the entire business rates system in the long-term, it’s now absolutely critical that business rates relief is extended for vulnerable sectors such as hospitality and that downward revaluations are realised in full." 4 D eliveroo’s UK orders were down 4% in Q3 as consumer spending tightened

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INDUSTRY NEWS 11.22 MAJOR RESTAURANTS FACE FOOD SHORTAGES DUE TO STRIKE

FOODHUB ADDS TRIO OF ORDERING INNOVATIONS Online food ordering company Foodhub has added offline ordering technology, self- ordering kiosks and ordering via Google to help independents keep pace with the high street chains. As part of the new ordering innovations, Foodhub is offering some partners the option of stationing self-ordering kiosks in their restaurants, allowing customers to place orders in the shop via a screen. Partners will also now benefit from accepting orders offline, allowing them to attend new orders that are placed from a different location or device. Elsewhere, Foodhub clients will gain access to the app Drive2Success, which assigns orders to delivery drivers via a scannable QR code on receipts. This eliminates the need to manually designate deliveries, which can be an inefficient process. Additionally, many customers will now be able to order food via Google, after Foodhub rolled the feature out to 15,000 clients, with many more set to join. Customers can search for their favourite restaurant or takeaway on Google, before ordering directly from the site, rather than via an app or through the business’ dedicated web page. Foodhub CEO Ardian Mula said: “The introduction of offline ordering technology, self-ordering kiosks and ordering via Google will undoubtedly benefit both the client and customer, providing everyone with a better product. “These modernisations represent the continuation of our mission to create a streamlined and efficient experience.” The launch of the new ordering features coincides with the revamp of Foodhub’s website. Ardian adds: “One of our main goals as a company is to help small, independent restraints and takeaways thrive, and that’s what the new site is designed to achieve.” Restaurant or takeaway owners interested in partnering with Foodhub should visit: www.foodhubforbusiness.com NATIONAL FISH & CHIP AWARDS TOP 10 RESTAURANTS ANNOUNCED The National Fish and Chip Awards has announced the top 10 semi-finalists for its Restaurant of the Year category. They are: • Knights Fish Restaurant • The Cod’s Scallops • Eric’s Fish and Chips • Fish City • Henry’s of Hunstanton • Jacksons Fish and Chips • No.1 Cromer • Malt and Anchor • By the Sea Seafood Restaurant • Flyde Fish Bar The semi-finalists made the shortlist after a judging process in which they demonstrated extensive knowledge of the fish and chip industry including customer service, strong environmental standards and sustainability best practice. The businesses will now face scrutiny from industry leaders to determine the three finalists and the ultimate winner. Andrew Crook, president at the NFFF, comments: “The National Fish & Chip Awards are such an important part of celebrating the fish and chip industry, whilst recognising the very best in Britain. We’re delighted with the standard of applications this year and the Top 10 Restaurants of the Year really reflects the quality and hard-working nature of businesses in the UK. We can’t wait to celebrate at the awards ceremony!” The National Fish & Chip Awards will take place on 28th of February 2023 at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge hotel in London.

Some of Britain's biggest family restaurants could face disruption to their food deliveries this Christmas as the workers union GMB launches a strike ballot among members. Almost 600 GMB members working for Bestfood will take part in a strike ballot after they rejected the company’s latest pay offer. The workers, who deliver fresh food to the likes of Pizza Express, KFC, Zizzi, Burger King, Wagamama and Pizza Hut, rejected a 6% pay offer, which GMB claims would amount to a real terms pay cut this year and into next. A total of 93% cent of GMB members rejected the offer, with 85% cent indicating they wanted to be balloted formally for industrial action. Nadine Houghton, GMB National Officer, said: “These workers bust a gut to deliver fresh, just in time food to some of the biggest names in the business. “Bestfood’s parent companies Booker and Tesco are making incredibly healthy profits and paying large dividends, while leaving these workers crushed by cost of living. “Now some of their biggest clients may well be left short this Christmas because they won’t meet GMB’s reasonable request for a pay deal that protects our members through this year and into next with a genuine cost of living increase.”

CHIP SHOP LAUGHS AND KEBABS ARE SIGNS OF A GOOD NIGHT OUT Standing around the chip shop having a laugh and tucking into late- night doner kebabs are essential parts of a great British evening out, according to new research. In a definitive list of the things we love about hitting the town in the UK, 23% of Brits said chip shop laughs are a sign of a top night out, while 30% insist a night out isn't over unless it ends with a doner kebab. Getting ready with mates, deep and meaningfuls in the taxi, and getting straight into the club without having to queue also made the list of good night out indicators, as did laughing till your sides hurt and hitting the dance floor when a favourite tune drops. The study of 1,500 Brits was conducted by Malibu as part of its #GoodVibesOnly campaign to spread awareness of how young people can stay safe as they start university life.

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INDUSTRY NEWS 11.22

GREENE KING ADDS VEGAN FISH AND CHIPS TO THE MENU Pub chain Greene King has added a vegan fish and chips option to its menu. More than 250 Hungry Horse pubs, 160 Greene King Local pubs, and 70 Farmhouse Inns pubs owned by the brewer are now serving OmniTM plant- based fishless fillets, alongside chips and peas or mushy peas with further sites soon to be added. Made with a blend of non-GMO soy, pea and rice proteins, the fillets are said to it retain the flakiness and tenderness of real fish while carrying an ineffable ocean flavour. Containing 349mg omega-3 ALA and zero cholesterol, Omni Golden Fillets are low in saturated fat and free from trans-fat. 1  To marks its reopening after a refurbishment, The Island House Newbridge in Wolverhampton sold fish and chips for just 1p to its first 50 customers

ROBOTS TAKE CARE OF COOKING THE CHIPS

A West London-based company has developed a “family of robots’ that it claims will revolutionise how fried food is cooked. The /FRYR intelligent, high-precision frying solutions from Karakuri, in Hammersmith, enable staff to spend less time in front of the fryer and more time on value-added, customer- focused tasks within the restaurant. Launching with /FRYR210, robotic arms fill baskets with frozen product, drop them into hot oil, lift when ready - even giving a shake - before emptying the contents and starting again. All staff have to do is load the freezer and pack the end product. Handling up to 30 baskets per fry well, /FRYR210 can produce up to 130lbs/60kg of chips per hour. Real-time monitoring and prediction of frozen food levels alert staff in advance when the freezer needs refilling, avoiding costly delays, while patented portion control technology prepares variable basket volumes, ensuring fry baskets are filled with exactly the right amount of product to match restaurant demand. The system works with existing extraction and fire suppression and can be installed overnight with no interruption to kitchen operations. Barney Wragg, CEO and co-founder of Karakuri, says: “With more than 22 billion pounds of French fries eaten each year globally, frying is a massive business. “Every restaurant knows that serving consistently crispy, fluffy fries will keep customers coming back for more. “Our new family of /FRYR automated fry lines is changing the game for QSR and fast casual restaurants. It strikes the perfect balance of food, people and intelligent automation, allowing restaurants to deliver expertly fried food with total consistency and availability, at a price point that works for their bottom line.” /FRYR210 starts at $2,100 per month (around £1,900), which covers supply, maintenance and servicing.

FRIWITE CUSTOMERS HELP THE Q PARTNERSHIP PLANT 4,000 TREES

The Q Partnership has planted 4,137 trees thanks to customers buying FriWite 100% segregated sustainable palm oil throughout September. The fish and chips wholesaler, which comprises Friars Pride, VA Whitley and Henry Colbeck, committed to planting 50 trees for every 100 boxes of FriWite sold in an effort to do its part in combating climate change and helping create a sustainable future. With over 4,000 trees planted as a result of the campaign, over 900k tons of CO2 will now be extracted from the atmosphere over a ten-year period. This is in addition to the benefit the trees will have in protecting against flooding and landslides as well as encouraging biodiversity by creating homes for hundreds of different species of insects, mammals, fungi, and plants. A spokesperson for The Q Partnership said: "Thank you from everyone here at the Q Partnership for your help to plant trees with every purchase of FriWite this September and for your continued support as we strive to be a leading group for sustainability in our industry." Free posters are available to all customers that contributed to the #WeArePlantingTrees FriWite campaign. Any shop that has not yet received its poster should contact marketing@friarspride.com, marketing@vawhitley.com or marketing@henrycolbeck.com with its account number or shop postcode and one will be sent out. FriWite is 100%,

sustainable palm oil certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.

Free point of sale, such

as posters and digital assets, are also available for shops using FriWite to help communicate the message to

customers that they are frying with 100% sustainable palm oil.

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WHAT’S NEW

Facial recognition software automates age verification Hospitality technology specialist Lolly has launched a new facial

recognition system – LollyVerify - which helps hospitality providers automate the process of verifying a customer’s age.

No picture is taken, however, a camera activates the system’s software which then compares digital face markers to ascertain the age of the purchaser and prompts the server with a ‘please verify age’ message if they are potentially below the age required. Lolly 0800 038 5389 www.itslolly.com

Add Caribbean flavours to the menu with no worries about waste Operators looking to add a Caribbean twist to their menus can do it without any worries about waste with the new Caribbean Irie Eats range of individual portions from Funnybones. Delivered frozen in packs of six and wrapped in eco-friendly, heat stable packaging, there are five varieties available: a vegan-friendly Callaloo Stew, Rice ‘n’ Peas, Curried Mutton, Jerk Chicken and Jerk Pork. Once defrosted, the meals can be kept chilled for up to five days. Funnybones Foodservice 01672 564099 www.funnybones.co.uk

Louisiana Seasoning adds flavour and profits Ceres has launched a new American-inspired Louisiana Seasoning to give added heat and flavour to a range of menu items. The seasoning can be sprinkled over freshly fried chips, rubbed into steak or pork, mixed with olive oil and used to marinate chicken and seafood, or added to mayonnaise. As well as adding a new dimension to menus, the seasoning can also help boost profits with an upsell on a portion of chips alone of just 49p bringing in an 80% gross profit. Suitable for vegetarians and vegans, Louisiana Seasoning is available in single 550g jars priced at £7.99 as well as packs of six at £34.99. Ceres Pure Food Innovation 0845 3711 522 www.worldofceres.com

Ice creams complement warm winter desserts To help keep ice cream sales buoyant during the winter, New Forest Ice Cream has introduced two new flavours that complement hot desserts. Spiced Fruit Shortcake is a brandy-based ice cream containing sultanas, cinnamon, mixed spice and orange peel that pairs perfectly with a treacle tart or a warming pear tarte tatin. Alternatively, for an alcoholic milkshake, operators can add two scoops of ice cream to a blender, along with a splash of milk and a good slug of brandy, and pour into a tall glass and top with whipped cream. Chocolate Orange flavour, meanwhile, features a zesty orange ripple to sit alongside a warming sticky toffee pudding or an autumnal crumble. Suitable for vegetarians, and made in a nut free environment, the ice creams come in 4.75 litre tubs. New Forest Ice Cream 01590 647 611 www.newforesticecream.com

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BIG INTERVIEW

From ordering apps to robot waiters, Peter Moore, CEO and founder of Lolly, discusses the increasing role technology is playing both front and back-of-house

Tell us about yourself and your background? Prior to founding Lolly, I spent many years in senior roles at a number of tech companies. Whilst CEO of Omega Logic, I saw the future was in integrating EPoS tills and payment technology. In 2007, I amalgamated several payment and EPoS companies to create Consolis, which rebranded to It’s Lolly in January 2016. Lolly exists to create a technology hub for now and the future. We are a market-leading, creative force that develops simple, yet powerful, integrated PoS, payment, kitchen management, self-serve and omnichannel solutions for hospitality providers and corporate caterers. Our products can help fish and chip restaurants and takeaways create a rewarding customer experience, delivering high-quality service, alongside meeting business needs and enabling growth. Striving to advance hospitality

technology, my mission is to take state- of-the-art technology and make it both accessible and productive. What does a typical day look like for you as Lolly CEO? I take the dog out for an early morning walk, and then I’ll be in the office by 8am. I use the first hour to catch up on e-mails and plan my day ahead. My first call of the day is always with the Lolly development team, who all work remotely. We go through current client opportunities and plans before I then go onto an update call with the sales team. Afternoons are spent reviewing operations and processes and driving the business strategy. Who is your typical customer? Typical customers range from large corporate canteens to fast food outlets, pop-up style caterers and coffee shops.

It’s a broad mix, and our range of digital products has something to suit everyone.

How are you finding the market at the moment and how is technology evolving to support the needs of the hospitality industry? We’re finding the market incredibly buoyant. Hospitality providers are choosing to invest in technology because they realise how important it is not to be behind the curve. Today’s customers have different expectations, for example a younger buyer will have a higher expectation around the type of technology at the point of sale and providers are doing all they can to meet the changing market needs. And, given the migratory nature of many working in hospitality, it is important to offer simpler technology and be able to optimise what you have to encourage greater footfall. From robotics to AI, these technologies continue to evolve and they

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BIG INTERVIEW

It is no longer about a single solution, but a fully integrated offering providing the customer with a seamless experience when ordering products and services irrespective of their age and how they want to interact with technology. We call it a digital journey. If a customer is happy with the service, be it digital or personal interaction, they will doubtless return time and again. What are the latest innovations to come from Lolly? We recently launched LollyVerify, which helps hospitality providers automate the process of verifying a customer’s age. The tool confirms the age of an individual who purchases a product that has been flagged as age-restricted (for example alcohol), within the Lolly database. This uses a clever algorithm that continually learns and improves its accuracy. We have also launched a LollyBot robot waiter, which follows many months of development and has been designed to support a busy hospitality environment, in particular, waiting-on staff. The robot, which is able to operate for a whole evening, can take food from the kitchen to a table in a restaurant, navigating obstacles and people on its journey.

Are you confident in the future of technology and what do you

think will come next? Totally confident. The world has massively changed over the last

few years, and it will again. We’re moving into a world with robots and AI, we have to learn to co-exist with them – and how to add even greater value to the customer. They are all designed to streamline the customer experience.

are here to stay. Exciting times.

customers to understand their carbon impact through the food choices they make, to giving guidance around the allergens and calorific content of their orders. We want the customer to feel empowered, and technology such as ours is easy and intuitive to use. Is EPoS affordable for fish and chip shops and what are the benefits? Absolutely! In fact, the more superior systems should be helping operators to create greater throughput, making them even more efficient and profitable.

Which products are you finding most popular in fast food environments? Online ordering apps that take seamless service to the next level by delivering an all-in-one, easy-to-use pre-order, loyalty and payment solution. Our Lolly app, launched in November 2021, is proving to be extremely popular and already has more than 50,000 users. Available for both Apple and Android devices, the app is highly intuitive and fully integrates with all existing Lolly PoS and self-serve applications. How can technology help with the customer experience? That’s what it’s all about. From helping

Tell us about your fully integrated digital solution? EPoS as a standalone product is legacy.

Resistance to future change is futile, and I believe robot waiting-on staff are here to stay.

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SHOP FOCUS

With its 16th site due to open this month, Simone Varese, one of the directors behind Scotland’s growing fish and chip chain Blue Lagoon, talks about the opportunities and challenges his family business is facing

The very first Blue Lagoon opened its doors almost 50 years ago on Sauchiehall Street, now one of the main shopping streets in the centre of Glasgow. It was the result of years of hard work by Italian-born Ersilio Varese and childhood sweetheart Edda who built up enough capital running two chippies previously to take the gamble and follow their dream of opening in Glasgow. At that time, there was a lot of competition in fish and chips and the area itself wasn’t the 24/7 hive of activity that it is today. The first two to three years were a struggle, but slowly the other chip shops disappeared, the flow of traffic in town started to move towards the area, and trade got better and better. Sauchiehall Street became a success and formed the foundations for future expansion across the city. Over the years, shops have come and shops have gone, with the chain now sitting at an impressive 15. Many of these are now outside of Glasgow in cities such as Perth and Sterling, as well as coastal areas such as Largs, Ayr and Balloch near Loch Lomond, where the growth in tourists all craving fish and chips has provided clear opportunities to expand the business.

hard and the experience we have within the company, and the fact there are a few of us now all very much concentrated on what we’re doing, we’re managing to keep on a steady footing so far.” Challenges As with all of hospitality right now, Blue Lagoon is struggling with staffing, however, its business model makes it slightly tougher. Having built much of its business on the late- night market, Blue Lagoon has half a dozen shops in town open to 5am, seven days-a- week, and finding the workforce who want to do that regularly isn’t easy. But Simone has learnt not to let it get him down. “Staffing is always an issue. But one of my father’s sayings whenever we’ve had our head in our hands because a couple of friers have left or a manager has left is that he’d never known a day where you don’t have a staffing issue somewhere of some degree. That’s just the way business is when you’re relying on other people to carry out your service, so to speak.” The other ongoing challenge is rising energy bills with costs at one shop alone tripling from £500 a month to £1,500. While Simone welcomes the government’s initial

Run by third-generation brothers Simone, Allesandro and Gianluca Varese, they attribute much of the growth to their predecessors’ experiences which have taught them to work hard, save for a rainy day, maintain a healthy bank balance and not overspend. “Both my grandfather and my father came into the business when it was a little bit of a struggle so they grew up in those darker days when the bank balance wasn’t always looking so healthy,” says Simone. “We’ve grown up aware of that so we only spend when we know we can spend and we’re sensible about it. Before we take on another site and go from 14 to 15 to 16 we will do our due diligence to the point where we are as close as we can be to thinking right this will work. If there’s any doubt, we don’t take the plunge.” That history and combined experience has also taught the family not to take anything for granted and that things can turn on sixpence. “Look at what we’ve just been through,” says Simone. “Who would have thought the city centre would be shut down completely? Now we’re battling electricity prices and the cost of living. You don’t know what’s around the corner. But by and large, between working

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SHOP FOCUS

we could just get something off the VAT, even if it drops to 17.5%, it would help offset some of the other rising costs. “We’ve put our prices up, but there’s a limit of how much you can go up when you’re selling at the lower end of the price market. We just can’t keep passing costs on to the customer.” Traditional The Blue Lagoon has developed a very distinct style of decor over the years, characterised by its bright neon lights and a tropical theme. In amongst this boldness, is still a traditional approach, with Simone shying away from the urge to invest in technology, such as self- service screens and apps. “Anytime I pass a McDonald’s or Burger King, I stop and I can see why they’ve done what they have done because they don’t need as many people to do a job,” he says. “We’ve not taken that step yet, a lot of our customers are the older generation so we would be a little bit wary to go overly technical at this stage, but as time passes, you never know. We’re quite old school in our service, I suppose. In our takeaway, you walk up to the counter, a human being will serve you, you sit in for something to eat, and someone will come to your table and provide table service. So we’re quite labour-heavy, but we’re hoping that is

something that attracts people to us.” Having built up a healthy business, Blue Lagoon is in a sound enough position financially where, despite the current challenges, it can invest when opportunities arise. Its most recent has been the purchase of a newsagents next to its takeaway in Gordon Street allowing it to expand into a 70-seater restaurant with a takeaway. “We’ve always found that if you invest in a shop, you’ll get it back over time. “With Gordon Street, we took the long- term view that we’ve been at that site for 15 years anyway so we knew it well enough to know that, albeit a gamble, it’s one worth taking. We knew what the flow of people was like, we knew the income we had there, the turnover that we had currently. It was more of an educated guess than had we been going somewhere completely new.” With its 16th store due to open at the end of this year in Renfield Street, Glasgow, Simone

help, he believes the industry desperately needs to cut business rates and VAT. “There’s not much we can do. The lights have to go on, the pans have to be on otherwise you’re shut. But £1,500 a month, that’s, £15,000 at the end of the year right off your bottom line, that could be your profit margin there. “It’s ridiculous that business rates have just bounced straight back up to 100% as if nothing ever happened. Some of the rates we pay on some of the sites are unbelievably unfair. It’s such a stranglehold around businesses. And if

says further shops are on the cards. “We will keep opening if the right

opportunities come up and as long as that base is looking good and things are running okay. We’ll continue to open sensibly though, we will never be a company that will open 10 shops in a row. At the most we might do two back-to-back to each other but no more than that.”

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ADVERTORIAL

Key international football matches rarely fall during the winter months, which also happens to be when pie consumption is at an all-time high. As football and pies go hand-in-hand, Pukka is urging fish & chip shops to take advantage of this unique opportunity to bag bumper pie sales. Fry’s Publisher, Reece Head, takes a closer look.

With food at the heart of British sporting celebrations big and small, fish & chip shops should prepare to make the most of this unique sales opportunity, as we gear up to cheer on our national football teams. Pukka’s Managing Director, Isaac Fisher, has highlighted “an extraordinary sales opportunity not to be missed” to drive increased pies sales this year. “While we know our pies are enjoyed all year round, there is a particular preference for them during the colder months. In fact, pie sales increased +14% during autumn / winter last year . And when you also consider that during the international matches of summer 2021, sales spiked +25% , there is no better time to get prepped for a huge influx of customers.” Fish & chip shops have always been Pukka’s heartland and that’s why the nation’s number one pie brand is arming chippy

Fisher adds: “It’s also important to shout about the services you offer on social media, which can directly impact sales because of the enhanced visibility you’re driving of your shop. “Finally, visit our foodservice website to download resources like our Social Media Toolkit and bespoke POS – which will help you to drive engagement and generate sales growth even further this winter.”

WIN £1K WORTH OF PIES

owners with the tools they need to make the most of this unique opportunity. Fisher explains: “Firstly, offering a complete line-up of pies is vital, so that you have something for everyone. Utilise a combination of our classic recipes, alongside our pitch-side favourite Chicken Balti. You can expand appeal even further by stocking-up on our vegetarian and vegan-friendly pies.” To further boost sales, fish & chip shops should consider click & collect and home delivery services – to give their customers an easy way to order their pie & chips meal pre- game, post-game or during halftime. IRI Pukka Pies 3wk data to 11th July 2021 vs previous period WIN £1k worth of pies in Pukka’s monthly prize draw. Find out more here: pukkapies. co.uk/win

HOW TO ORDER

Feature the nation’s no.1 pie brand ahead of kick-off on 20th November by calling 0116 264 4000

IRI Marketplace | Chilled & Frozen Pies | 52 w/e 20th March 2022 | Total UK

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MONTHLY PRIZE DRAW

WIN £ 1000

WORTH OF PIES * pukkapies.co.uk/win

Score big this winter With pies being the perfect match to watch the games

Feature the nation’s no.1 pie brand ** in your line-up Call 0116 026 4000

*Monthly prize draw running from Sept 2022 until May 2023. T & Cs apply. Visit pukkapies.co.uk/win for details. **Source: IRI Marketplace | Chilled & Frozen Pies | 52 w/e 20th March 2022 | Total UK

CHRISTMAS

From battering sprouts to giving staff time off, there are multiple ways to celebrate Christmas

This Christmas is a hard one to predict. With the cost of living crisis causing customers to cut back, it’s uncertain if this will affect out- of-home food spend or if customers will save up to splash out. On top of this, we have a winter football World Cup dragging people off into bars and pubs between 20th November and 18th December 18th, which could affect footfall. But it is Christmas after all and it doesn’t hurt to reflect this on the menu, even with just a tiny nod to the festivities. This way you haven’t got to spend hours coming up with something over complicated and you won’t have money tied up in stock you can’t sell once the tinsel has come down. Reflect the season “Switch up your sauces and accompaniments to reflect the season,” suggests Gordon Lauder, MD of frozen food distributor Central Foods, which supplies the Golden Valley Foods range of poultry products to fast food operators. “Instead of ketchup, try serving your chicken products with cranberry sauce,” he says.

accompaniment menu for a festive touch? Christmas is the perfect opportunity to add a bit of sparkle to your fast food menus. It’s a special time of year for many, so offering seasonal specialities will help customers get into the festive spirit.” Having tried two course festive meals in the past and feeling they weren’t overly successful, this year Eric’s Fish & Chips in Norfolk is keeping it simple with a range of specials that can be enjoyed alongside fish and chips. As well as generating extra profits, it’s a way of maintaining communication with customers at a time when they could easily be forgotten about amongst all the festive goings-on. Owner Eric Snaith comments: “Successful Christmas items we’ve sold in the past have been deep-fried pigs in blankets, crispy fried stuffing balls, and deep-fried Christmas pudding with brandy butter ice cream. This year we are thinking of adding a mulled cider as well so some people can use us just for hot drinks and snacks. Sales are usually quite strong on these specials, but on top of that it’s important that we have something for marketing content.” John Molnar and his Cod’s Scallops crew in Nottingham have been working on their

COUNTRY RANGE LAUNCHES FESTIVE FOURSOME

Independent foodservice brand Country Range has added to its Christmas offering with four new potato products to help operators reduce waste and save time. The Festive foursome includes Seasoned Waffle Fries, a crispy lattice cut potato which is said to be perfect with a wide range of sides, cooked breakfasts and brunches or takeaways. Potato Dauphinoise - a pre- portioned gratin made with sliced Fontane potato and a cream cheese - Roasted Potatoes and Roasted Potatoes with Duck Fat complete the line-up. Country Range www.countryrange.co.uk

“How about adding deep-fried sage and onion stuffing balls to your snack/

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CHRISTMAS

specials for many months already, sourcing a thinner bacon so that its pigs in blankets crisp up perfectly when battered, for example. These will be served alongside battered sprouts, a cranberry dipping sauce, battered pork sage and onion stuffing balls and, new for this year, a battered mince pie with a whiskey cream. “Christmas is about selling add-ons,” says John. “I price them sensitively so a portion of battered sprouts is slightly more than a portion of mushy peas. I think at Christmas and those key times customers will still spend, but it’s the times in between when if I can sell a battered mince pie or some sprouts as well as a portion of fish and chips, then I’ve won, haven’t I?” Closing up Christmas can of course be celebrated in other ways, it doesn’t have to be reflected in the menu. In Dan Edward’s case, owner of Chips @No8 in Prestwich, Manchester, he plans to close his takeaway for almost two weeks and give his team the time off on full pay. Staff get to spend time with their loved ones, reset ready for the new year and it generates goodwill which hopefully is returned later in the year. Dan comments: ”Our staff work incredibly hard throughout the year, and from my previous career in hotels, having missed almost every Christmas and New Year for 20 years, I know how it feels to want to spend that period with your friends and family.” It’s also a time to help others, something Paul Hay, owner of Fish ’n’ Fritz, Weymouth,

Dorset, has chosen to do having tried Christmas menus, parties, and theme offerings over the years and being left with the feeling that they never set the world on fire. He gets much more satisfaction and uptake from running his Suspended Coffee Scheme whereby customers donate a hot drink to people less fortunate than themselves. “This has evolved from suspended coffees to customers buying meals for people over time,” Paul comments. “Like

many seaside towns at the end of the line there is a large homeless community. The Suspended Coffee Scheme offers us the chance to directly help someone in person when they are hungry and cold. Over the Christmas period, we broadcast this message on our socials and place posters in the restaurant and takeaway. Across the year, customers are always making donations, but during the Festive season, the donations increase dramatically.” Central Foods www.centralfoods.co.uk

THE GIFT OF GIVING

35% 18%

WHAT BRITS HAVE BOUGHT AS GIFTS IN THE PAST:

PRE PACKAGED DINING EXPERIECE

GIFT CARDS

23% 23%

HOTEL STAY 16%

BRANDED MERCH (from hospitality)

RETAIL PRODUCT

Market research company KAM suggests takeaways and restaurants should be thinking beyond on-premise sales this Christmas and targeting the gifting market. It follows research that suggests 35% of consumers have bought a gift card for a pub, bar or restaurant as a gift in the past, while 23% have bought hospitality branded merchandise (think t-shirts, recipe books, or hot sauces).

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BLEND 30 Batter Mix

To celebrate 30 years of trading we have produced this special batter mix Blend 30. We have been passionate about making batter mix for over 50 years and in this Blend 30 we have used all of our expertise and skill to produce a product that is the best of the best. This celebration blend is the ultimate product for crispness, increased holding time and quality.

We hope you love it as much as we do. Leonard & Sylvia Middleton

• A unique blend of flours • Fries extra crispy with a light golden colour • Designed to sit longer in the holding cabinet • Ideal for take-away, restaurant and delivery

For a FREE sample please call 01902 608122 or visit www.middletonfoods.com

@MiddletonFrying

Twitter

@middletonfoods

Instagram

Facebook Find us on:

@middletonfoods

BATTER

Getting the perfect batter starts with the prep and every shop owner has their own take on what’s involved

There are many aspects that go into producing top quality fish and chips and up there in the top three, along with oil and fish is, of course, batter. Calvin Harris, national sales manager at South Yorkshire-based food coatings and mixes company Rupert’s Ingredients, says the role of batter should never be underestimated. “It helps fish retain its moisture and prevents it from drying out while in the fryer, but it also adds flavour and that all-important crunchy texture that reaffirms its freshness,” he says. “But it’s got to look right as well as taste right as it’s the first thing a customer sees and it’s what your food will be judged on.”

Consistency Getting it right is something Carlo Crolla, owner of East Coast Fish & Chips in Musselburgh, East Lothian, can relate to. “The last thing any customer wants is a perfect crispy batter one week and a sogfest the next,” he remarks. “Getting it right is of the utmost importance because each time it’s right, the customer returns, the customer sings your praises, the customer enjoys. Happy customer equals happy owner, so consistency is key.” When Carlo rebranded his restaurant to East Coast in 2018, he changed everything, including switching to Middleton’s batter mix. This in itself, wasn’t the end of it, however. “You need to make sure your water is cold and doesn’t heat up too much so don’t make loads of it,” Carlo explains. “You can refrigerate and store it too and it needs to be a nice thin batter (use of a flow cup helps).” Never ever use batter from the previous day, he stresses, and ensure everyone making the batter mix gets it spot on every time. Carlo adds: “There is a bit more work in using a thin batter mix, especially if you want an even consistency over the fish, but if you want it perfect you need to be willing to put in the extra effort.” Customer comments about East Coast’s new batter exceeded even what Carlo had imagined, adding. “Great feedback can also help you through the harder days!”

Tiffany Irvin, owner of The Fish Works in Largs, North Ayrshire, believes that achieving the perfect batter helps her shop stand out

from others. Opening her business on Largs Promenade in 2017 and being new to the trade, she trialled various batters until she came across Middleton’s Golden Batter Mix. “It suited the type of batter we were

going for, which was more of a golden, crispy batter which isn’t traditional to Scotland,” she says. Ensuring their batter is always made with fresh, cold water, staff use a flow cup and timer to ensure consistency. “This guarantees the batter is always at the right consistency - not too thick or too thin - when it’s being made by several team members,” she says.“We also make our batter in small fresh batches to ensure it does not deteriorate over time.” During hot days, the team put ice packs under their batter tray liner to keep the batter cooler - a tip Tiffany took from Stuart Devine, operations manager at The Ashvale in Aberdeen, during the shop’s first Quality Award inspection.

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BATTER

Attention to detail Sharing Tiffany’s attention to detail is Dan Edwards, owner of Chips @ No.8 in Prestwich,

Manchester. He makes batter to his own recipe, adding sparkling water and beer, and is pedantic about everything. For example, dry mixes are weighed out to the gram and stored in 2ltr plastic tubs in a dedicated freezer, and liquids are kept in the fridge until needed and are measured to the millilitre. “We want the batter to be as cold as possible so if the batter dry mix starts at -25°C, then when we mix it with the liquids at 2-3°C, the temperature pretty much stays at that.” Staff only mix two litres at a time to keep a low temperature which means on a Friday night, it’s pretty much someone’s sole responsibility. “Keeping it as cold as possible causes the hot oil to shock the cold batter, creating an effervescent crispy, wispy batter,” Dan explains. He also finds resting fresh batter for 10 minutes in the fridge before using allows the gluten to relax. If you think you know everything there is to know about batter, think again. With new mixes always being developed and batter by its very nature being changeable, there’s always something new to learn, as Fred Capel, owner of Chez Fred in Bournemouth, found recently when he started using Ceres Natural Batter. Digging a little deeper to understand more about the components that make up flour and

how the different variables, such as protein and moisture content, affect its performance, Fred now stores his batter in his office rather than the storeroom. He comments: “I don’t think people understand how much the way batter is stored impacts on the quality. Just putting it in a cold storeroom, or on a damp patch, for example, can activate the raising agent in the flour. I’ve found since keeping ours in a warm environment, some of the moisture is released so the colour and fry I’m getting are beautiful.” While everyone is in pursuit of “the perfect batter”, what this actually means will be different for each shop. Therefore, it’s important to try different batters along with different methods and find what works for your shop.

TOP BATTER MAKING TIPS

Kerry Foodservice has put together its top tips to help produce the best batter 1. Always use cold water, preferably from the fridge. 2. Use a clean stainless steal bucket and whisk which are well rinsed of detergent. 3. Make small batches little and often. The shelf life of a batter is a maximum of four hours, less than that in the summer. 4. Always store your batter flour in a cool, dry area - preferably in a sealed container - to stop pre-activation of raising agents. 5. Where possible whisk by hand. If using a mixer be careful not to over mix. 6. Keep wet batter in the fridge when not in use. 7. Never mix old, leftover batter into your new mix. You are just shortening the life of that product and the finished product will not be at its best. Kerry Foodservice 0800 138 1938 www.kerryfoodservice.co.uk

Ceres Pure Food Innovation 0845 3711 522 www.worldofceres.com Middleton Food Products 01902 608122 www.middletonfoods.com Rupert’s Ingredients 01709 891033 www.rupertsingredients.com

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