5 Things You Didn't Know About Harry Ramsden's

harry ramsden franchise

Since the dish first appeared in the 1860s, fish and chips has been a British food favourite for generations. Whether you’re eating them as a takeaway by the sea or eating them gourmet-style in a restaurant, Brits of all ages can’t get enough of the classic British dish.

Harry Ramsden’s

Britain’s longest-established restaurant chain, Harry Ramsden’s has been serving up the nation’s favourite for almost 90 years. The restaurant is constantly coming up with innovative ways to keep the brand fresh; giving the restaurants a contemporary new look, an updated menu, ensuring brand awareness and implementing a great production strategy. Evidently, it has stood the test of time, as there are now over 30 standard restaurants, quick service restaurants and takeaway outlets throughout the UK and Northern Ireland.

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Who Owns Harry Ramsden’s?

In 1954, the brand was sold to Eddie Stokes, Harry Ramsden’s long-term business partner, for £37,500, and then sold to the Essex-based Associated Fisheries in 1965.

Then, in 1988, the company was bought by Merryweathers, a firm led by Chairmen John Barnes and Richard Richardson. The two were responsible for the expansion of the business from a single restaurant in Guiseley, Yorkshire to an international chain.

A year later, due to their bank withdrawing funding, the management team floated the business on the London Stock Exchange. In the following ten years, the Harry Ramsden’s brand really started to take off, with the company growing across the UK and worldwide through company-owned and franchised restaurants. Worldwide locations included Australia, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia and Epcot (a theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida).

In 1999, a franchise agreement with Granada motorway services to introduce kiosk units resulted in Granada Ltd buying the food franchise for £20 million.

A year later, Compass, a British multinational contract foodservice company merged with Granada and the business expanded into kiosks in motorway service stations, Post Office canteens, Little Chef oulets, Haven Holidays and Butlins resorts, and contract catering locations such as schools.

In 2006 the company was sold to the SSP business and in 2008 the role of Managing Director was filled by Chris Sullivan, an industry turnaround specialist - and he did exactly that. During 2009 he improved food quality, reduced waiting times and removed food offerings that weren’t classic fish and chip shop fare. This initiated an improvement in sales in the seaside restaurant and food court business, which encouraged parent company SSP to market Harry Ramsden’s for sale.

In 2010, Harry Ramsden’s was brought by Birmingham businessman, Ranjit Boparan, of Boparan Ventures Ltd (BVL).

5 Things You Didn’t Know

1. Interesting History

The fish and chips restaurant chain was established by Harry Ramsden, ‘The Uncrowned King of Fish & Chips’ (1988-1963) in 1928 in Guiseley, West Yorkshire. Three years later, he set his sights on expansion and moved from the wooden hut he had been operating from to a new, larger restaurant, fitted with oak panelled walls, carpets and chandeliers - quite the upgrade. The original hut still stands today, next to the main restaurant, which at one point, held the Guinness World Record for the largest fish and chip shop in the world, with 250 seats, serving almost one million customers a year. After investments made by BVL, the Bournemouth Harry Ramsden’s branch now holds the title for the World’s Largest Fish and Chips Restaurant, with 417 seats, a café and a terrace. Harry Corbett, the puppeteer, magician, pianist and, most notably, the creator of Sooty, was Harry Ramsden’s nephew and he played the piano in the original Guiseley restaurant.

2. The Survival of the Original Guiseley Restaurant

In 2011 it was publicised that the original Harry Ramsden’s in Guiseley would face permanent closure, as it wasn’t as profitable as it was back in its heyday. A few months after closure, at the beginning of 2012, it was reported that the restaurant has been bought by the Wetherby Whaler group. In May 2012 it reopened under the Wetherby Whaler brand.


Phillip Murphy, one of the Wetherby Whaler founders said that ‘The famous fish and chip restaurant in Guiseley is the spiritual home of fish and chips in England. It would be a national scandal if it were to close at this time of economic uncertainly.’

3. Just How Fabulous Harry’s Fish Is

The restaurant chain is proud to announce that it can trace the path of its fish from the sea to customer’s plates. Before Harry Ramsden’s golden-battered cod and haddock appear on our plates, they are caught in the North East Atlantic where stocks are in larger abundance, making the fishing process more sustainable. The world-famous fish are caught in the Barents and Norwegian Seas and as soon as they are on-board the boat, they are instantly cut and frozen below -18̊C - the whole process takes place at sea.

The fish remains at this temperature permanently, as they are transported to cold storage on land and until they reach the kitchens. Again, with sustainability in mind, once in the kitchens, the skilled filleting team cut the fish to size, making sure nothing goes to waste.

4. Chips Are Just as Good Too!

The double-cooked chips are made from potatoes that come direct from British potato farmers. The chain supports numerous British farmers who specialise in different varieties of potato. This is because it strives to ensure that only the most ‘in season’ potato is used year-round.

5. So Much More Than Just a Fish and Chip Shop

The Harry Ramsden’s in Eastbourne has launched a series of live music events known as ‘Sounds by the Seaside’. It is in aid of the nominated local charity, Epilepsy Lifestyle. The event runs every Saturday from 6:30 to 8:15 pm and is free to attend. Diners will be offered the opportunity to make donations to the charity throughout the evening. This is not the restaurant’s only fundraising activity, as 1p from every transaction between August and December last year were donated to the charity.

For more details about the franchise costs and fees see the Point Franchise website.

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