Case Study - James and Bonny Ritchie, Fish and Chip Shop Owners
James Ritchie, 29, is co-owner along with his wife Bonny, of Simpsons Fish and Chips in Cheltenham. Simpsons are currently shortlisted for Fish and Chip Shop of the Year as part of the National Fish and Chip Awards, recognising and rewarding those who are providing the best fish and chips across the UK.
"Food has featured in most of my career, although not in my education. When I was 15 I started working for Pizza Hut, as well as attending college. My passion was being creative, so I went on to study Fine Art and that's where I met my (now) wife, Bonny.
At the time Bonny was working for her parent's fish and chip shop, so with my experience in food service and my knowledge of food hygiene and customer service, I followed suit and started working there too.
After graduating university, rather than pursue degree related careers, we decided to stick to what we knew and used the skills and practices honed in Bonny's parent's shop, to open a new fish and chip business together. Having hands on experience and knowledge of how a fish and chip business operates, we were determined to be our own bosses and make our new venture work. Although it might not seem a natural fit, my degree has been beneficial to this role as it has enabled me to create a really strong brand for our shop.
I think the real perks to the industry are getting to meet new people and receiving recognition for what we do. It has been very rewarding for us personally to set-up and run a successful and well-known business. Travel is also a real perk; I've been to Norway, visited fishing ports, potato farms, factories, other fish and chip shops and attended industry events. If we win National Fish & Chip Shop of the Year we will get to go to Japan to prepare fish and chips as part of their annual British Fair run by the Hankyu department store.
I believe you need to have passion to be successful in the fish and chip trade as it's not the easiest industry to be a part of and you have to actually care to succeed. Saying that, I love being my own boss as it gives me flexibility which enables me to spend a reasonable amount of time with my young family. I'm paid enough to get by but I hope this will increase as the business grows further; we're still fairly new, so heavily re-investing a lot of the money we make.
I am a strong ambassador for our trade which keeps me very busy. Simpsons are trying to be at the forefront of the industry and I aim to always do a good job representing the industry as a whole alongside the British icon - fish and chips."