In his first column for Fry, Craig Maw, co-owner of Kingfisher Fish & Chips in Plymouth, Devon, talks about life since winning Independent Takeaway at the National Fish & Chip Awards
I think I’ve just about replied to everyone now who has messaged Nikki and myself to say congratulations on our win — and there have been a lot of messages! It actually took me from the Thursday of the awards until the following Tuesday to reply and get clear as I would reply to 20 messages and I would end up with 30 back! Everyone has been so pleased for us and that’s been fantastic to see, so thank you to you all.
Even prior to the awards, people were being so kind, and saying good luck and telling us that they were behind us. It put pressure on us a bit, but it also showed us what a great industry we’re in. At times it’s easy to feel isolated, working in your shop behind your range, but there are so many people out there who, despite being competitors, are all championing the same thing and who are keen to see everyone do well.
The thing that’s really amazed me though is the fact that news of our win has gone global. The day after the awards, we appeared on ITV’s This Morning with Ruth and Eamonn and we were interviewed by Rylan. I have to admit we were incredibly nervous as we didn't know what we were going to get asked, but once we got going it wasn’t too bad. We came straight out of there into a radio interview with BBC Devon, during which the shop had a phone call to say the equivalent of the BBC in Germany wanted to do some filming. By the following Monday, we had a camera crew in the shop filming for a programme looking at Britain’s passion for fish and chips. When it airs, Nikki and myself are going to be dubbed over with German subtitles, so we’re quite interested to hear what we’ll sound like speaking German!
We also did a live interview with a radio station in Canada, we’ve had e-mails from people in Spain, Italy and Germany and we even had a request from a social media site in Miami who wanted us to drone a portion of fish and chips to them!
Oh, and we had a family come in who were visiting the UK from Hong Kong who heard about us on the radio and drove four hours just to come and try our fish and chips. It was fantastic because they ordered three plates of all different things they had never had before.
I can honestly say that the level of media coverage our win has generated has far exceeded our expectations. It seems the whole world is sharing our success and loving fish and chips and that’s ultimately what we want to achieve - to get everyone talking about fish and chips and eating more fish and chips.
At the shop, the additional three pan range that we had put in at the end of last year is now in full use as we’ve been busier than ever. The first couple of days immediately after the awards we were up about 100%, so we doubled our turnover, but that’s levelled out now to being around 40% up. I’m very pleased with that as the weather has been pretty rubbish since the awards, so that would normally have affected trade.
The staff are all still buzzing and we’re actually looking to grow the team now by taking on a couple more members of staff. We currently have 12 people on a shift on a Friday now. I’m looking forward to seeing the team grow and, of course, it’s great for the local economy too as we’re giving jobs to local people.
Over the next few columns I’m keen to share details of our success, but since I’ve nearly used up all my word count for this month I just want to quickly stress that now is the time you need to think about getting your shop awards ready. It’s quite evident that those businesses that do well are the ones that hold things like the NFFF Quality Award and MSC certification. They all take time to achieve, so start planning ahead. I was made up to see that nine of the Independent Takeaway finalists this year had MSC certification and I would love next year for all ten shops to hold it as that really would shine a light on the importance of sustainability.