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You are not alone

Kingfisher’s Craig Maw encourages operators to venture outside of their shops and embrace what the industry has to offer

Nikki and myself have been in the industry for many years and have owned Kingfisher for only four and half years. Owning your own shop is very different to being employed in it. In our early stages of ownership we encountered many hurdles and obstacles. We had staffing issues, customer issues, and various other problems which just burdened our shoulders and often kept us awake at night. With only ourselves to turn to, we felt alone in our business.

But we were on a mission, we wanted to develop a great shop; we had changed everything in our business from the way it looked to the branding to the products and the way we operated. We regularly get into work at 8.30am and finish after 9.30 pm. All work and no play, sounds familiar?

In our first year in business we were shortlisted for two awards at the National Fish and Chip Awards. When the big day came round and we arrived in London four years ago, we didn’t know anyone. This was the time and place where we first started to talk to like-minded people within our industry.

There was also a realisation at this stage that, in order to meet people within the industry, we had to get involved. I would like to say this was the best thing we did, but there has been many of these instances.

We made every effort to visit industry events even though sometimes it was difficult. Your business, probably just like ours, always draws you back in, or sometimes you just can’t be bothered. But trust me when I say this, seriously! Be bothered, make the effort. It pays back in spades.

We found from talking and discussing with other operators at industry events, we had lots in common and lots to talk about. We weren’t alone anymore, and our problems weren’t unique to us.

Now, four and half years on, we have made lots of friends. Some are owners, some are business associates. There is a support network out there, and there is a melting pot of ideas too.

Over the years we have been to some fantastic industry events and had some incredible times.

I feel our industry is unique in the fact that shop owners, suppliers, industry bodies, get together in this way, helping and supporting each other. What other industry does this?

If you are into social media, there is a network of friers and suppliers too and forums to have discussions.

Become a member of The National Federation of Fish Friers, an industry body with a wealth of experience, with contacts for you to trouble shoot and help.

There are a handful of industry events that regularly pop up each year and various trade shows around the country to visit. We learn something new on every occasion which has helped us develop and grow our business.

We love our industry and the people in it who help make it what it is today. It is very exciting to see new people coming into fish and chips, bringing in new ideas and helping to move the industry on. It’s the evolution of fish and chips, and it excites us.

So, if ever you are working hard in your business, feeling isolated or need some support, get involved.

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