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Jonathan France - Fishbank

In his first column aimed at new operators in the industry, Jonathan France, owner of The Fish Bank in Sherburn in Elmet, Leeds, shares his experiences and the advice he wished he had when starting out, beginning with prepping fish

When prepping our number one product – fish – I would say consider how butchers operate. Butchers sell by weight. We buy fish by weight but sell by unit e.g. ‘a fish’. It’s really important we are consistent with our unit weight to maximise our profitability. 

The price you pay per kg of your fish will differ according to size grading and whether the fish is boned.

It is generally cheaper to buy larger fish than ‘tight graded’ fish such as 6-8oz. However, cutting larger fish is more difficult when inexperienced and can lead to too much ‘trim’ and therefore waste. My advice would be to buy tight graded to start with. They are easier to cut to size and keep consistent.

‘Pin bone in’ fish are cheaper, and cutting the pin bone out yourself is really easy. This will save a huge amount of money over the course of the month. 

Do I need to cut tight graded fish?

Yes! The size of tight graded fish will vary within a box, but the fish you sell must be consistent. If someone gets an 8oz fish one day they will only be disappointed if it’s 6oz the next. Be consistent and use the 2oz as a different product. Butchers don’t waste anything – all of their trimmings become sausage and mince. 

Trim = profit

Most fish cutting will lead to ‘trim’. We need to turn that into money. Fishcakes (think butchers’ sausages) are a great way of using the really small and scraggly trimmings. They are a great product and offer families great value.

Another ‘trim’ product is fish bites (think goujon size pieces). Fantastic for children’s meals as they are bite-sized and easy to eat. Adults love them too! We price a portion of seven fish bites in between our small and regular fish. They are a great seller and we never have any fish waste .

Our seven fish bites are currently £5.60 (80p each). So there is money to be made by cutting your regular fish down to size. 

Box clever

If you sell your product in boxes, make sure you cut your fish to fit. It sounds obvious, but you should never have to break the end off a fish to fit in the box. Look at your packaging and make a mark or guide on your chopping board for your various fish sizes, so you can cut consistently.

Bigger isn’t always better

In my experience bigger portions don’t bring in more customers. Consistent high quality and fair value will keep your customer numbers and reputation growing.


Completely new to the industry, Jonathan France opened The Fish Bank in Sherburn in Elmet, Leeds, in 2019. 

By 2023, he’d reached Top 10 of the National Fish & Chip Awards and won successive Fry Awards. This year, he is in the current Top 10 for Fish & Chip Takeaway of the Year

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