Opinions Matter - Fish Friers Review - Issue 6
Article Date: 2020-09-16
Opinions matter to us at the NFFF, we want to hear from you all.
In the recent Fish Friers Review we featured our first 'Opinions Matter' page. We want to hear our members opinions on subjects which affect our trade.
The opinion could be a couple of sentences, a paragraph or it could be a full page article. The NFFF will reflect on all of your opinions and will provide answers on how we all as an industry can improve and move forward.
Our first subject was;
'How were things for you during the coronavirus pandemic and how would you like to see the industry move forward?'
Catch up with our full article below:
Member A - Opinion
“Since opening again we are managing well on reduced hours, reduced staff and a reduced menu. We have screens, new signage etc and are doing our very best to keep our staff and customers safe. It is frustrating to see other establishments open with little or no protection for anyone. Customers who have been to them and then come to us do not understand why we have restrictions like telephone orders only, mask wearing and social distancing.
The reduced VAT rate is a great help to us and we would encourage the government to continue this for everyone in the food industry.”
The announcement of lockdown gave many businesses the opportunity to re-evaluate and take a good look at their opening hours, menu and staffing levels. Under normal circumstances, it is often problematic to change opening hours, yet businesses often have quiet times of the week where they wonder why they open, and often do so just because that is what has always happened!
Many businesses had to reduce staffing levels, due to working closely together and only having small teams working. Some businesses are larger than others and have the space to do this, others are family run so could work closer together.
You are not alone in reducing your menu. There is no problem with having a smaller menu and doing it well. It may be a reduced menu, but it’s not reduced quality.
It’s frustrating to see other establishments operating with little or no protection. It’s about doing the right thing to keep everybody safe. Having a comprehensive risk assessment and being Covid secure is going to be vital moving forwards. The government are trying to avoid another national lockdown by using local lockdowns in hotspots across the country; you want to be sure that your shop is not responsible for contributing to a hotspot in your area.
The reduced VAT rate has been a real boost to our industry. Although we’ve all got to pay our taxes, in reality we want to avoid the VAT rate going back up to the full 20%. In the long run it might not be possible to maintain it at 5%, but a lower rate for longer would help recovery within our industry.
Member B - Opinion
“When the lockdown was 1st announced end of March we did what any responsible place would do and shut down at least for a few weeks to figure everything out.
We then saw other fish and chip shops continue to trade without any form of social distancing and the excuse they used was that it was a critical service as those were the only ones allowed to open. This was very upsetting as some shops let their greed take precedence over their staff and customers.
Yes there are critical supplies and they should be protected but having a fish and chip supper seemed selfish and I felt these shops let the rest of us down. When McDonalds and KFC shut because they couldn't guarantee the safety of staff and customers, why did little old Nicks fish and chip shop feel their procedures were safer than a billion pound company or did they just disregard safety in the name of profit.”
A vast majority of Fish and Chip shops did shut down for a period to reassess their working practices. The nature of our industry is that there are many different shops of different shapes, sizes and workforces. This meant that some were able to adapt much more quickly to the new situation we found ourselves in than others.
It was frustrating to see some establishments still open with no changes in the way they were working to keep people safe, but other shops were able to implement procedures to make them safe for staff and customers. Smaller family run shops may not have had their workforce impacted upon if they were all from the same household, for example. It can look like the shop was unsafe, but that may not be the case as their own personal circumstances are unknown.
The area in which the shop is located is also a significant factor for whether a fish and chip shop could be considered as critical supplies. In a more isolated village with limited facilities, the local fish and chip shop could be the hub for the community and be providing a vital service.
What could pass as greed from the outside could also be hiding poor personal circumstances. Shops may have many reasons for having to open as they need the cash. They may have no reserves, just recently significantly invested at a really bad time. It is hard to judge from an outsider’s perspective.
Overall, our industry acted swiftly and professionally during this crisis. But as is the case with most things, there’s always one that doesn’t.
Member C - Opinion
“As I have only been in the industry for 3 years, I find that the Sector of a small single shop owner becomes neglected in all reviews.
Great if you are a bigger shop or larger premises but for the small one man band operations there is very little focus in the review for us.
We work as hard if not harder than some premises and I believe the focus in the FFR is on businesses above the VAT threshold and not the ones below.
There are the same issues but not as vast as others – simple things such as campaigns - we are that small that we have no effect who lack funds to make things happen.
Utilities advice, insurance, waste etc are areas that are small in comparison but we may need help on.
Covid -19 - This has hit everyone hard the "Eat out to Help out" campaign has significantly impacted us. Great for the bigger premises but for me it has hit hard losing up to 30% of income each week so far in August.
Whist the NFFF does fantastic work for the industry I feel the small shops do not get acknowledgement for their skill and effort.
Personally, I took on an old shop with a poor reputation that had been closed for over 6 months and for 2 years prior the previous owner only opened when the owner felt he could be bothered.
I have now built it up with 40-50% increase in takings weekly compared to the same period int he first two years.
Working hard is not an issue but a mentor or advice line at any time would be good and business help with ideas board or something from people who have been in my position.”
The Fish Friers Review is an open platform for everyone to become involved with. Many of the shops who we feature have come to the NFFF with their stories, but as the editor of the magazine I do acknowledge we could look to focus on smaller shops even more within the magazine.