As Simpsons gets set to hand over the title of Best Independent Fish & Chip Takeaway, James reflects on the highlights of the past 12 months
The final chapter is upon us, the last few days of being champions! It’s been a whirlwind year and, as such, has passed us by in a flash.
However, when I look back at the things we’ve done and achieved I am proud of where we’ve come and the opportunities we’ve grabbed with both hands.
Starting with the morning after the awards with our visit to the ITV studios to film This Morning on the Southbank, an absolute dream come true. We’ve taken Simpsons on Wheels to Manchester to cook for National Fish and Chip Day, we’ve experimented with a crazy American guy on stage at the Cheltenham Science Festival (he caused a deliberate chip pan fire!) and we launched MSC’s Turn The Tide campaign by giving away 75 MSC cod and chips to celebrate the 75 certified fish and chip shops. We’ve written to The Times business clinic, featured in Waitrose magazine three times, Giles Coren reviewed us, which really helped the legitimacy of fish and chips as a proper restaurant worthy dish. I’ve even visited Japan and cooked over 10,000 fish and chips for the locals who queued from 10am-7pm each day to eat our national dish. Who would have thought our humble chippy could take us half way across the world?!
In the trade we’ve been able to represent ourselves with numerous talks, presentations, guest appearances and help train others in our vibrant industry, I hope we can continue to do this in the future.
In terms of what the award has done for our business, staff morale is up, takings have settled at a good 50% addition on turnover compared to the previous year, plenty of people keep offering to invest in us, so we’ll see if we’d like to progress with expansion in the future, but for now one shop is plenty — and in equal measures is a headache and a delight! However, we wouldn’t be anywhere else.
I want to take the opportunity to thank our staff who have worked incredibly hard, our customers who’ve been loyal and (mostly) very patient, our friends in the industry, previous winners who have given us advice, our trade bodies who have supported us, Fry Magazine for this guest column which really makes me sit and think about where we’ve come, Silverball PR, Eat Marketing and all our suppliers who’ve kept up with demand! Lastly, to Seafish, without the awards none of this would be possible. Thank you for all the love and support.
Best of luck to the finalists for all the 2017 National Fish and Chip Awards, we’ll be there, enjoying the food and wine and relaxing for a change!
If I’m honest we’ve absolutely loved being representatives for the industry this year and we’ll be gutted to see the trophy move on but, on the other hand, I’m excited for the future of Simpsons, wherever it takes us.
James and Bonny Ritchie
Jan and Brian Simpson