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Eating together

With families eating out more and the chippy providing a value for money option, the industry is well-placed to capture more of this market if the offering is positioned right

Families are an important market for fish and chip shops, in fact, according to research by NPD Group, they account for 47.7% of fish and chip shop dinner visits. 

Targeting your business at this market can bring huge benefits, although this demographic might be looking for more deals and spend less per head than say millennials and the 55+ generation, they come with children that will one day grow up and start families of their own, creating a significant opportunity to attract customers and increase future business. Many of you may see it already where you are serving your customers’ children and grandchildren.

For Kingfisher Fish & Chips in Plymouth, Devon, the takeaway is based on a housing estate and families are a key demographic. One of the things it does to attract this market is to offer a slightly broader menu. Owner Craig Maw comments: “We try and be a one-stop-shop for all the family. We have to recognise that not everyone wants to eat fish and chips, or not everyone fancies it even, so it’s offering just a slightly broader menu line. We’ve got wings and ribs on the menu, as well as pies and a local Cornish pasty. So just a couple of extra bits. Next door to us we’ve got a Chinese and a Domino’s so what we’re trying to do is stop customers from coming in and then shopping everywhere else too.”

The takeaway also offers four different sizes of fish to appeal to all family members from kids, to grown-ups, to nans and grandads, plus when it comes to the children’s offering, there’s no scrimping on quality, as Craig explains: “We want to get kids into fish and chips so we do a nice, high quality cod bite. There are no scraps in there because now is the time we want to engage kids with fish and chips and we’re not going to do that by serving them a poor quality product. So it’s real fish with a real fish taste and nice, big flakes.”

Where the takeaway has now become a destination and it sees customers traveling in from neighbouring towns, Kingfisher makes sure it looks after its locals by running promotions which it varies throughout the year. At the moment it’s two fish and chips for £10 in order to get customers in during the ongoing heatwave. In addition, it produces its own quarterly magazine to keep customers up-to-date with what the shop is doing and it always aims for customer service to be spot on each time. Craig adds: “We’ve got to work hard to get customers up off their backsides to come and buy fish and chips from us, so our level of service has to be higher because we want the customers to keep coming back.”

At The Crispy Cod in Tonyrefail in South Wales, owner Matthew Williams estimates 50% of his business is made up of families. With his customers extremely price sensitive, he’s put together a family meal deal for £20 that includes fish and chips for four as well as ice cream for the kids and a bottle of drink to take away. He comments: “What I’ve noticed in the last couple of years is that people want convenience. I know customers can go to M&S and get two meals for £10 but they’ve still got to go home and cook it. With this, customers don’t have to do anything but come and collect it. They are selling really well, not so much in the week as we find people tend to spend less, but at the weekend people like that option.”

Wanting to make the experience for families an even better one and take convenience a step further, The Crispy Cod is in the process of introducing a click and collect service. Matthew adds: “People are working longer hours, they don’t want to be standing in a fish and chip shop for half an hour, they want to go home, get the kids in to the PJs and eat their dinner. Customers will be able to place their order online and then walk in and we’ll have it ready. We’re going to set up a separate section in the shop dedicated to click and collect.”

Over at Eric’s Fish & Chips in Thornham, Norfolk, owner Eric Snaith has positioned the chippy from the outset to appeal to families through both its menu items and by creating an environment parents and kids can feel at home in.

“We’ve become hugely popular with families,” says Eric. “It’s little things like the food coming out quickly, which works well for kids. Often when you go out to eat the food can take 20-30 minutes to come out. If the kids start getting a bit noisy, parents can become conscious of that and it feeds through to them. Here, families order their food, it’s is out within ten minutes and the parents can sit and relax.

“We also train the staff to welcome the children, we give out colouring sheets and we’ve just started offering temporary tattoos, which the kids go nuts for.  It’s things like that that have given us a reputation for being really family friendly.”

On the menu, Eric has taken inspiration from chicken giant KFC to create a sharing platter that the whole family can get involved in. Priced at £30, it’s available Monday to Thursday and it sure is a feast including a fishcake, cod bites, battered squid, gruyere and spinach arancini, black pudding fritter, battered gherkins, baby gem and salad cream, two portions of chips and tartare sauce.

The idea behind it is not only to offer a good value meal for the whole family but also to show off some of the smaller items the chippy does. Eric adds: “It’s a great opportunity to get people and kids to try different things and, more importantly, the customer knows what they are spending when they go out. The pubs around here have got quite expensive, but this is still reasonably priced.”

As a result, Eric’s, sees a lot of its family trade coming in between four and five o’clock when parents are looking to feed their children. With NPD data suggesting fish and chip shops have an over-reliance on dinner visits, this is a clever move as it’s managed to fill a time period before the tea-time rush when many chippies are quiet.


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