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The fish and chip shop entrepreneur

Interview with...

Stelios Theocharous
Age:
26
CV:
Worked in the fish and chip shop industry
Business name:
The Batter Company
Goods/services:
Provider and wholesaler of naturally-made batter
Location:
Warwickshire
Trading for:
Three years

Stelios on what the company does and the inspiration behind the business...

"I was brought up in the industry in a Greek-Cypriot family. I've been working in the fish and chip trade for 11 years and took the business to an award-winning status. I also wrote for trade magazines and then started The Batter Company.

"It started a few years ago when we were looking for a batter mix that didn't have any nasty ingredients like colourings and artificial flavourings. We started developing our own batter mix with a small flour mill.

"We made small volumes and other people in the industry liking our product - they liked the fact that it was natural. We started selling greater volumes and sales grew as business started telling their friends. The business just started from there on its own!"

Due to the global recession a lot of people have come out of different sectors and gone into the fish and chip shop industry, thinking it's very easy and that they can make cash quickly

On the biggest challenges in the trade and how can these be overcome...

"Due to the global recession a lot of people have come out of different sectors and gone into the fish and chip shop industry, thinking it's very easy and that they can make cash quickly.

"People underestimate the task at hand and the minute they realise it's not that easy they drop their prices - which deflates the quality of the industry. That's probably the biggest challenge that's going to be around for the next few years to be honest."

On how much harder it is running a fish and chip shop now than it was 15-20 years ago...

"A lot harder. Although I wouldn't remember what it was like, I talked to people that were there 20 years ago. To a certain degree, any person could open a fish shop back then providing the food was OK, people would flock and the money was there.

"There's a lot more competition now, not just from other fish and chip shops; there's Chinese takeaways, Indian restaurants, Subways, etc.

"I think in today's industry there's a lot of red tape from the council which means you can't just cook good food, you have to be a good businessman. You must take on board positive PR, marketing, branding, etc. I don't think a lot of people in the industry are cut out for that, but you have to be, there's no choice in today's world."

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