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Fish Friers

Entrepreneur founds business success on passion for fish and chips

Article Date: 2015-02-13

In this week^s Scotland Herald, NFFF member and Quality Award holder Calum Richardson from the ^The Bay Fish & Chips^ discusses life as a fish and chip owner plus much more.

Name: Calum Richardson.

Age: 42.

What is your business called? The Bay Fish & Chip Shop.

Where is it based? Stonehaven.

What products does it offer?

Sustainable, locally sourced fish and chips. We like to make our menu as varied as possible so we include options for scallops, langoustines, monkfish and squid.

Our real time app, which was launched last year, allows our customers to see the supply chain for The Bay as it relates to individual menu items and simple nutritional information about our ingredients, suppliers and food miles.

What is its turnover?

£1.1 million.

How many employees?

We have 16 members of staff.

When was it formed?

I set up The Bay Fish & Chips in 2006 with my wife Lindsay.

Why did you take the plunge?

I found a location that I knew would be ideal for The Bay and I just went for it. It was a risk, but I had no doubt in my mind, as I knew this was the best move for the business and myself.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

Before I started to pursue cooking as a career I was in the Navy for ten years.

I loved it, travelling around the world and tasting all the different foods in each country. I picked up a lot of professional qualities in the Navy, which I still use to this day. I especially like my staff to demonstrate the ^work hard and play hard^ philosophy which I picked up in the Navy. I tell them that they can have as much fun as they like as long as the job gets done at the end of the day!

I always wanted to join the Navy as a chef or a photographer but when I went along to the careers office they said I was best suited to be an engineer so that^s what I did and then pursued cooking after leaving the Navy.

After I left the Navy I got a job as a fryer in a fish and chip shop in Stonehaven, my hometown. From working there I realised what a passion I had for the fish and chip shop industry so when an opportunity came up to buy a shop in Stonehaven in 2000 I went for it. It was a difficult process to set up my first business and it was hard to convince the bank to invest, but I managed it in the end. Then nine years ago I decided to sell the business and went on to create The Bay.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

I used the money from selling my old fish and chip shop to fund my new venture with The Bay. From the moment I opened the doors I made sure I entered lots of competitions, as I knew this would help make The Bay a recognisable brand.

What was your biggest break?

It was a massive stepping-stone for me when I won Young Fish Fryer of the Year in 2002 and my self-confidence just rocketed from that point. However, when it comes to my biggest break, I^d have to say that came when we won the prestigious Independent Takeaway Fish and Chip Shop of the Year Award in 2013.

What was your worst moment?

One challenge that I certainly wasn^t prepared for was when my wife fell pregnant with twins five years ago. I didn^t know how I was going to cope as my wife and I were a team and we covered all angles of the business together. We always worked together and we were each putting in 80 hours a week every week and then suddenly she was gone and I had to find someone else to replace her. As much as it was a shock to deal with at first, the business has blossomed since because now we^re a much bigger team, we have much more flexibility with hours and attending events, things that we couldn^t have considered before being just the two of us in the business.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

I thoroughly enjoy being able to create a nice environment for my customers and staff. I love seeing repeat custom and getting to share The Bay experience with as many people as I can. I feel very passionate about sustainability and it^s great that through The Bay^s activity I can successfully communicate this message to the public.

What do you least enjoy?

When you work in catering you have to accept that the hours are going to be long and sometimes people aren^t very understanding when you^re not available at the drop of a hat.

What are your ambitions for the firm?

I have always and will always want any changes to The Bay to happen organically. I^m open to hearing about all of the opportunities available but that doesn^t necessarily mean I choose to action all of them. Our shop does incredibly well so instead of risking what we have I would rather expand in other areas of the business instead of expanding the amount of shops we own. For example, this year we^ve just secured a large commercial contract for our bespoke Bay batter. We^ll be buying a food truck to take our fish and chips all around Scotland and we^ve teamed up with Nick Nairn^s Cook School to teach budding cooks how to make the perfect fish and chips. On top of this we^re also launching an online shop where we^ll be selling a selection of The Bay goods from aprons bearing the famous Bay logo to Bay Ale to our very own bespoke batter.

What are your five top priorities?

Customers, staff, product, environment and sustainability.

What could the Westminster and/or Scottish governments do that would help?

VAT is at a ridiculous high for people who serve hot food. I feel really passionately about making this fair across the board and not to penalize small businesses that work extremely hard.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

It doesn^t matter if you^re running a Michelin star restaurant or a fish and chip shop you need to treat your customers with exactly the same respect and in the way that you would wish to be treated. Good customer service stands for so much and if you don^t have that I can almost certainly say that your business won^t succeed.

How do you relax?

I thoroughly enjoy eating out and getting to experience great tasting food with customer service to match.

Fish Friers