All You Need to Know About Setting Up a Fish and Chip Shop

Fish and chip shops are a staple of the British food industry and with around 10,500 outlets [1] around the country, they outnumber popular fast food chains, such as McDonald’s and KFC.

The British public eats around 382 million portions of fish and chips per year, spending a staggering £1.2 billion! [1]

It’s little surprise then, that many business owners are tempted by the prospect of owning their own chippy. But with the rising cost of raw ingredients and competition from other fast food outlets, finding a successful formula can be challenging.

To help get your fish and chip business off to the best possible start, here’s an overview of all you need to know.


As with any new business, consider your location carefully. Traditional seaside resorts are prime locations, as are areas with a high concentration of senior citizens, and city centres.

A prime location may mean that you pay higher business rates so you need to factor this in too. If your business has a rateable value of less than £15,000, you may qualify for small business rates relief. [2]

Decide whether you want to establish a new shop, or take over an existing business. If you opt for the latter, you could benefit from inheriting a loyal customer base, but consider why the current owners are leaving.

Your trade will naturally fluctuate around working hours so consider your opening times too.  You don’t want to be open for business when the majority of your customers are at work.

Start-Up Costs

Start-up costs vary depending on the location and size of your premises. From £10,000 in some northern areas to £350,000 in London for leaseholds, with freeholds selling for up to £500,000. [3]

You also need to think about if you’ll offer table service or will be a takeaway-only chippy. Depending on the premises you lease or buy, this decision may already be made for you. But if you choose to operate a restaurant, you will need to account for furniture, toilet facilities, and additional staff at the very least.

Buying Equipment

If you’ve taken over a fish and chip shop then the chances are you already have the equipment in place. But if not, there’s an essential few things you need to get going and these can be a big portion of your start-up costs.

  • A commercial fryer – This is the most important piece of equipment for your shop so it pays to do your research. Gas and electric fryers both have their advantages and disadvantages (gas is cheaper to run but more expensive to buy) but the fryer itself should be easy to clean with built-in filtration to keep your oil fresher for longer.
  • Fridges – Keep your fish and stock fresh; depending on demand you may need several fridges.
  • Chip scuttle – This is the display unit that keeps your cooked chips fresh and has the added bonus of letting customers see how temptingly delicious your food looks.
  • Heated food display – This display is where you will store your fried fish ready for your customers to choose.
  • Storage freezer – Just as essential as a fridge.
  • Batter mixer – Mixing batter by hand is unrealistic if you want to keep up with demand so get a mixer to do the job for you.
  • Potato peeling machine – For the same reasons as to why you need a batter mixer, a potato peeling machine will do the hard work for you.
  • Utensils – This includes cutlery, salt, pepper, and ketchup sachets.

The National Federation of Fish Friers (NFFF) has a member’s directory with accredited suppliers to help you find the supplier right for you.

Finding a Supplier

Cod and haddock are the most popular types of fish served up at chippies but consider what the demand is in your area. [4]

It’s important to support, where you can, sustainable fishing practices. In 2006, the survival of the cod was at risk as a result of over-fishing. [5] In response, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) introduced the ‘Blue Tick’ for sustainability which can be awarded at any stage of the supply chain. [6]

A sustainable supplier means you’re doing your part to help the environment and also ensuring the longevity of your business. Without any fish, you won’t be able to run a fish and chip shop!

Fish suppliers often sell other ingredients you might need for your shop. From potatoes and pies to batter and oil, if you do enough research you may be able to find a supplier that can give you everything you need to set up shop.

Once you’ve decided on an oil supplier, you need to find a company that will take away your used oil. Pouring hot, used oil down the drain can attract vermin and could result in fines too. Some companies will collect your oil for you and then recycle it into renewable biodiesel.


There’s a long tradition in the UK of chippies putting puns to good use. Classics include the Frying Scotsman, Frying Nemo, Good Frydays, and The Codfather.

A playful name might just set you apart from your competitors and could even result in some added PR coverage as some customers may take a photo of your name for social media.

Rules and Regulations

Fish and chips shops don’t have any specific rules and regulations to adhere to but they do have to follow health and safety legislation. [7] Here are a few regulations you should look into:

  • Registering your business with your local authority (which you can do here).
  • Food safety and food hygiene certificates.
  • A health and safety policy – This is a legal requirement if you have five or more employees. But as you work with hot oil on a daily basis, creating your own health and safety policy will give you an idea of what to do in an emergency even if you have fewer than five employees.


If you’re starting from scratch, inviting in environmental health inspectors before you kit out your shop is a wise move. They can advise on the most convenient location for your fixtures and fittings.


Although there’s no legal obligation to have training, the NFFF offers several courses, including a three day course for all new entrants to the industry. This covers health and safety, food preparation, and practical information such as accounting. [8]


Fish and chip shops face a number of risks, including working with hot oil, sharp knives, and serving the general public. For this reason, you need adequate business insurance to protect your investment.

Bespoke fish and chip shop insurance should include:

  • Public and products liability.
  • Contents insurance.
  • Employers liability.
  • Business interruption.
  • Buildings cover.
  • Cover for money on premises.

To make sure you get the right protection for your shop, it’s worth speaking to a specialist broker who will find the perfect policy for your needs.

Get in touch with us today for a free, no obligation quote.



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