County Durham and Darlington fish and chip shops in trouble


Area fish and chip shops say they continue to struggle as the price of ingredients and energy soar.

Ingredients such as fish have doubled according to some stores, and flour, oil and potatoes have also increased in price.

The news comes as Britons have been warned the price of the country’s favorite dish could skyrocket due to a shortage of ingredients.

Will Burrell, manager of Yarm Road Fish and Chips in Darlington, said everything on his supply list “has risen in price over the past year”.

Yarm Road Fish and Chips Image: GOOGLE STREETVIEW

He went on to add that while he was fine at the moment, things were looking a bit “gloomy”.

He added: “At the moment we are doing well, there are no imminent worries in terms of willpower, but the margins are simply not there anymore.

“Ingredients aside, energy prices are absolutely crazy right now, we just signed a new energy contract for our gas and electric and it’s more than doubled and we’re locked into it for three years .

Mr Burrell added that despite these concerns he wanted to delay the price rise “as long as possible”.

Read more: Blackout in County Durham: Hundreds of homes without power

He said: “We are trying not to because of the cost of living crisis that we are facing.

“We are trying to maintain our prices as much as possible at the moment, but whether we are forced or not is another matter.

“In all honesty, our trade hasn’t really gone down that much to be fair, but every Monday morning you wake up and think, ‘How are we going to feel the pressure today.’

“But knock on wood, it’s okay, it feels like if we keep releasing quality stuff, we can weather the storm.”

Despite this, Burrell believes the government can do much more to help the industry.

He added: “The government could absolutely do a lot more, for our industry, which is quite a unique industry, it’s the VAT that’s killing us right now.

‘The whole system needs to be fairer and it needs to be cut, we are in a makeshift position where we are a busy small shop but I don’t know how small shops will survive with the current VAT rate.’

Indy Singh of Clem’s in Bishop Auckland said the store had to adapt to bring customers different orders to help combat the ‘struggle’.

The Northern Echo: Clem's in Bishop Auckland Image: GOOGLE STREETVIEWClem’s in Bishop Auckland Photo: GOOGLE STREETVIEW

He also admitted the store had been forced to raise prices, bringing the price of fish and chips down to £9.

Mr Singh added: “Obviously with the cost of living crisis people don’t have as much money anymore because it’s all about gas and electricity.

“I pay £2,500 a month now in this business, it’s ridiculous.”

He continued to point out and confirm that fish was the most expensive ingredient, but others also went up.

He added: ‘All the other ingredients have gone up as well, so flour, your sausage, whatever you need to run a fish shop on a daily basis has gone up as well.

“Right now we’re just trying to ride out the storm until prices stabilize a bit.”

Mr. Singh also thinks the government could do a lot more.

He said: ‘I know the National Fish Friers Federation has gone to the government and asked them to step in to help us.

“Fish and chips is one of the nation’s favorite foods and a livelihood for many. I even emailed Dehenna Davison about it.

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The Northern Echo spoke to Julie Kilding, owner of Mike’s Fish Bar in Newton Aycliffe, last May.

Echo of the North: Julie Kilding Photo: GOOGLE STREETVIEWJulie Kilding Photo: GOOGLE STREETVIEW

She revealed that things haven’t improved since then, but they are still able to continue surviving.

The company has just signed a new contract for gas and electricity, but Ms Kilding said she doesn’t ‘know how people who broke their contract are doing now, I’m afraid to think’ .

She added: ‘Ingredient prices continue to rise but we are doing well at the moment, not as well as we were, we wouldn’t mind a bit of extra support from the government, but I think everyone everyone does at the moment.

Ms Kilding confirmed she has not noticed a reduction in customer numbers and believes people have not changed their eating habits.

The Northern Echo: Mike's Fish Bar in Newton Aycliffe Photo: CONNOR LARMANMike’s Fish Bar in Newton Aycliffe Photo: CONNOR LARMAN

She added: “I think people still love their treats, so there may be a little shift in buying habits, but overall we’re still pushing customers through for the time being.”

Prices also haven’t increased at Mike’s Fish Bar, she confirmed, despite the unrest.

She added: ‘We are lucky to still be under contract and I don’t think the general public knows that businesses are not protected by a cap like normal consumers are.

“So it’s good that we are in this contract at the moment.”

The news comes just weeks ago Matt Vickers, MP for Stockton South, reported in The Northern Echo that the industry was in a ‘desperate situation’ and a third of chippies are now at risk of closure entirely in due to stress.

Read more: How we can make sure the Great British chippy didn’t have his chips

He said: “It’s no surprise that prices for every ingredient – from a bag of crisps to vegetable oil to the paper used to wrap food – have risen exponentially.

“As a nation of fish and chip lovers, we need to support our local shops. It’s really a case of ‘use ’em or lose ’em.

“There are a lot of things we can do at the consumer level; we can choose to buy haddock or hake caught in Britain instead of imported cod from our local chip shop and we can continue our patronage where we can despite the higher prices.

“As Britons, it is our patriotic duty to ensure that the Great British chippy remains a staple on our dining tables.”

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