Ramsden's buys local chippies

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The Independent Online
HARRY RAMSDEN'S, the chain of fish and chip super stores, is reinventing itself as...er...a chain of street corner chippies.

Having taken the art of mass-selling humble fried cod and potatoes to new levels with its bright and shiny 250-seater restaurants, the company is reverting to its traditional roots. From next year, the company will start to buy up chip shops in towns and cities around Britain and turn them into "Harry's Huts".

"We realise that we cannot have a 250-seater restaurant in every town and that sooner or later we will reach saturation point," said spokesman Neil Johnson.

There are parts of Britain where it is impossible to get good fish and chips so we intend to acquire premises in those areas."

From humble beginnings in 1928 with just one back street shop, Harry Ramsden's has become the country's most successful fish and chip chain. It has 35 restaurants and opened its most recent, last June, in Dubai. There is already a restaurant in Hong Kong and in October a restaurant is due to open in Aberdeen.

Despite the encroach of the ubiquitous hamburger, fish and chips remains big business in Britain. There are around 8,500 outlets and the industry is worth an estimated pounds 650-pounds 700m. In 1995 300 million servings of fish and chips were eaten. "We think the move that Ramsden's are planning will be very good for the industry as a whole," said Ann Kirk, general secretary of the National Federation of Fish Friers.