Martin and Kevin Duce are seventh generation friers whose family history can be traced right back to the 1891 census, which shows their great, great grandmother Clara Duce and her husband running two fried fish shops.
Following in the family’s footsteps, the brothers now own four shops, three of which are in the south east of England, and their latest, Forum Frier, in Blandford Forum, Devon. Bought two years ago with the aim of modernising it, Martin comments: “It was very run-down, it hadn’t been touched in any way since the late ‘70s, but we could see the potential. It was in a good location, the parking is great and it is in good fish and chip territory.”
After 18 months of running the business as it was, the brothers started a full refurbishment in January to bring it up-to-date. Martin comments: “We like the way the high street coffee shops have created that cosy kitchen/home environment, so we used places like Costa Coffee and Cafe Nero as our inspiration. We knew exactly how we wanted it to look - homely but contemporary.”
Knowing the materials they wanted to use and the design spec they were going for, they approached Barland Shopfitters to bring it all together. Martin adds: “Barland did some CAD drawings for us based on what we wanted and, looking at those and the finished article, they are virtually identical. They understood exactly what we wanted to achieve and the transformation is unbelievable. Customers are coming in and saying we’ve gone above their imaginations.”
Featuring new floors, ceilings, electrics, tiling, lighting, menuboards and a 3 pan ME-FF range, the new-look chippy was back open again in less than two weeks with a refreshed menu sporting items such as salt and pepper squid, Japanese prawns with a sweet chilli sauce, chicken strips and cheesy chips.
Commenting on the overall result, Martin adds: “Customers are grateful to have something to be proud of and a shop that improves the area, while the staff are also proud to be working somewhere that’s friendly and contemporary, as before it was very dark and dingy.”
Feeling that the new-look reflects the quality of food, Martin adds: “The refurbishment certainly has increased trade.
“It was really important for us to keep our prices the same, as there’s always that expectation when you do a shop refit that prices will increase. It means our profits are a bit smaller, but now people want to come in, they are trying our food, liking the quality and coming back.
“A lot of people are coming to us now who haven’t been to the shop in years. Before we were doing the best we could with awful equipment and awful surroundings. Now, people can see it’s a much more pleasant environment and a much more enjoyable experience.”
Barland Shopfitters 0800 043 5523 www.barlandshopfitters.co.uk