A fish and chip shop owner has closed her busy takeaway in Plymouth that specialises in gluten free following soaring energy prices and spiralling ingredient costs.
Sarah Lock, who owns four fish and chip businesses on the Barbican, has called time on Harbourside Gluten Free in a bid to cut costs after she was told electric prices at two of her sites will both increase from £8,000 a month to over £50,000 a month in February.
As well as rising energy costs, Sarah is battling soaring prices of fish, oil and batter, which she says is leaving her little profit in fish and chips at the moment.
Sarah, who also owns The Harbour, Barbican Fish Bar and Harbourside Fish & Chips, comments: “Energy prices are astronomical. We are doing the same thing as we’ve always done but it’s costing us four times as much. In one year, I’m going to lose £80,000 in profit just from electric. That’s on top of food costs more than doubling.
“I’m paying £4 for a cod fillet whereas we used to pay £1.30-£1.40. My fish and chips are priced at £10 so I’ll be lucky to make £1 a portion. I can’t put my prices up anymore because I just don’t think people will pay it.
“We sell sausages, chicken nuggets and burgers so we are trying to increase sales of other items because the profit from fish is just not what it used to be.
“Fish and chips is completely losing profitability.”
To try and reduce costs Sarah has tried alternative species to cod but says customers are not interested, switched to a cheaper potato and reduced opening hours. She’s also moved from weekly deliveries to daily deliveries to shut freezers down, turned lights off and, where possible, friers are dropping to one pan instead of two.
“I don’t know what else I can do. It makes sense to close Harbourside Gluten Free even though it’s been hugely successful since we opened it four years ago. There has been uproar since we told customers it was closing.”
Gluten free fish and chips will be available at Barbican Fish Bar site, which is next to Harbourside Gluten Free, while Sarah decides how to utilise the empty unit.
“I’m going to change it into something totally different because there is just no profit in fish and chips at the moment,” she says. “I’m thinking about doing burgers, ribs and loaded fries; customers seem quite happy to pay a premium for something that is actually cheaper than cod. When it comes to fish, some people still believe fish and chips should be £3.50.”