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Whether you’re refurbishing an existing shop or fitting out a new build, there’s plenty you need to take into consideration

External signage

This is often people’s first impression of your business so it’s imperative it reflects your offering inside and shows clearly what it is you do. Barry Dickman, MD at BD Signs, explains: “Clarity is very important and your message needs to be simple and easy to see. It’s tempting to fill a shopfront with every word possible, but you need to see it as a fascia and not a sign. Choose words that say what you do.” Barry recommends using a maximum of three colours on your signage and shopfront and making sure the two marry, as well as installing a projection sign, adding: “These can be read on a busy road 200 yards away, whereas a flat sign customers only notice when they’re on top of it.”

Behind the counter

Putting time and effort into getting your layout right back of house will reap rewards immediately as the fewer steps it takes to get a job done, the more productive your team can be. Having everything within easy reach is something Robert Cleveland, MD at Barland Shopfitters advocates, adding: “You need to ensure that the frier can access the fish fridge and is within reach of the fish pans. Equally as important is a position to place the chip barrel so it is close to the chip pans. You don’t want to waste time walking to a back room to get fish or chips to fry, especially at busy times.” Robert also recommends citing the hand wash basin near the fish pans so that staff can wash batter off hands easily.

Front of house

Having sufficient space on the customer side will create a comfortable waiting area. To make sure you get this right, Barland’s Robert Cleveland says, ideally, leave a minimum of two meters from the door to the counter. He also recommends some guidance to help customers queue, adding: “If you can, fit a balustrade to direct people in the right direction to queue so customers can order over the range, move over to the counter to pay and make their way out of the shop, keeping the flow of people smooth and as quick as possible. This means you won’t lose potential customers who might not want to come into the shop and place an order if it looks too cramped.”

Menu boards

Menu boards should be clear, concise and as engaging as possible as they can speed up service and help sell more product. Costas Nicodemou of CR Signs recommends easy to read fonts, grouping food under headings and communicating special offers clearly, adding: “You might think a script font looks nice, but when you try and read it from a distance, it’s just not practical. He also recommends digital menus for promotions, adding: “You might have your normal static menu but have one digital screen for detailing promotions, pushing new items and general information.”

Counter design

Make your counter a feature of your takeaway by branding it inline with your shop. After all, it’s great advertising space. You can either have your counter supplied plain if you’re going to add your own tiling or cladding or speak to your range manufacturer or sign maker who can make almost any design a possibility. CR Signs’ Costas Nicodemou explains: “We can illuminate, back illuminate, have logos cut out, do pretty much anything. It sometimes depends on whether it’s a counter range as we can’t always put electrics where the heat is, but in that instance, we can put the logo where the serving area is.”

Climate control

Suffolk-based Simply Climate Control estimates employees lose up to an hour of productivity per day through experiencing uncomfortable temperatures, so installing a climate control system to maintain an ambient temperature in your chippy could be a great investment. There are lots of clever systems out there that can capture surplus heat generated by the frying range and walk-in fridges to heat in the winter months and, equally, cool shops during the summer.

Odour control

Often forgotten or left to the last minute with any new fish and chip shop being planned is the back of kitchen or plant room space that is allocated for the filtration and odour control equipment. The space needed will be bespoke to every shop and will be dependent on the size of the range. Offering free advice, site surveys and risk assessment reports for shops to pass on to their EHO or planning officer, Andrew James, sales director at Purified Air, comments: “We can design and supply you with the best exhaust filtration and odour control system possible but we will need somewhere to put it, which is where early planning will be a huge help. And don’t forget, you can produce the best fish and chips ever tasted but if your extract is pumping out smelly, grease-laden air you could have complaints that could ultimately result in closure.”

Fire safety and security

Protecting all your hard work against damage, whether accidental or deliberate, is a must and so for peace of mind use a reputable company who will do a site survey and assess exactly what you need. For fire systems, check BAFE and for security systems use SSAIB - both independent registers of quality providers. Paul Hallam, director of Nottingham-based Central Fire & Security, which is on both, adds: “You must make sure you have a Fire Risk Assessment carried out on your business premises and this should be carried out on a yearly basis” And regarding security systems, Paul recommends checking your insurance as it may specify a certain grade of alarm.

Budgeting and finance

Refurbishments often run over budget so allow a 15% contingency fund for any unexpected jobs. It’s also worth bearing in mind that there is an increasing number of companies out there now that will finance a diverse range of non-standard equipment. Mark Johnson, director at Johnson Reed Finance, comments: “Traditionally, finance companies have funded metal and wheels - catering equipment and frying ranges - but we’ve got a Quirky Kit solution which means we can fund items like a shopfront, new toilets, a partition wall or flooring. Funds start from £5,000 and, don’t forget, leasing is very tax efficient so it could be a better option than spending your own money, even if you have your own money.”

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