Industry leaders fear 1,000 Yorkshire fish and chips shops could close as costs spiral

Industry leaders have told ITV News that a third of fish and chip shops could disappear from the high street because of rapidly escalating costs.

The Leeds-based National Federation of Fish Friers says the price of fish has doubled, energy bills have spiralled and cooking oil is more expensive than ever.

Bosses say chip shops will have to raise prices to survive and many could be forced out of business.

"It's definitely frightening. It's frightening for me that's for sure. I've been in business 22 years, I've never seen anything like this," said federation president Andrew Crook.

"This is definitely the biggest threat to the industry that we've seen.

"There are people who are struggling to explain to their families that they have no money coming in, they're not making a profit."

As they are not protected by the energy price cap, chip shops have also faced huge rises in energy costs.

Mr Crook said some of his members had reported electricity bills going up from £400 to £2,000 a month. 

He said there were further concerns about the government's planned 20% increase to VAT in April. The NFFF is urging the government to reconsider.

The spiralling costs battering fish and chip shops

'Fish is like the price of a fillet steak'

Shadwell Village Fish Shop in Leeds has been serving customers for over 100 years. 

But its energy bills have more than doubled recently and it has had to put prices up. 

Staff say customers may just have to change the way they think about fish and chips.

They told us: "We are normally known as the cheaper takeaway, which is wrong really. It's a stigma that I'd like to get rid of because we put out a quality product.

"Haddock is knocking on a similar price to fillet steak – we don't charge £25 for a portion of fish but you'll get that for a fillet steak."

And there are concerns that as fish and chip businesses struggle, there could be a wider impact on the tourist destinations they serve.

In Whitby there are around 20 fish and chip shops.

Whitby is a traditional fishing town Credit: PA Images

Richard Brewer has been a fishing near the town for decades. He says any shop closures would be a blow to his livelihood.

"I know a lot of the fish fries in town have very, very close margins," he said. 

"And what they have said to me is that they don't know how long they can carry on losing money.

"It's astronomically worrying because they are the people that we rely on to sell our product, any shops that are lost will be a big loss to us."

A Treasury spokesperson said: We’ve supported hospitality jobs and businesses throughout the pandemic with our £400 billion package of funding and continue to do so.

"We’ve always been clear that the lower rate of VAT was a temporary measure to support businesses as they recover and thanks to the strength of our fantastic vaccine programme which has enabled restrictions to be lifted and the economy to reopen, it’s right that our package of support reflects this."