Fish and chip chain Harry Ramsden's reveals '˜rapid' growth plans in Scotland

Fish and chip chain Harry Ramsden's is returning to Scotland's main cities as it gears up for what chief executive Joe Teixeira describes as 'rapid' growth north of the Border.

Harry Ramsdens aims to have as many as 30 sites in a variety of formats trading north of the Border within the next five years

Speaking before this week’s official opening of outlets in the Royal Mile and South Queensferry, Teixeira said Harry Ramsden’s is in discussions about “a number” of further locations in Scotland, and hopes to open at least two more by the end of the year. An announcement about a new site in Glasgow, where the chain gave up its landmark outlet on Paisley Road in 2014, is expected within the next few weeks.

“We do believe in Glasgow, and we do believe in Scotland – it is just a matter of getting into the right locations that suit our customers,” Teixeira said. “Scotland is one of our primary territories where we are looking to expand rapidly.”

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Working with Glasgow-based franchise partner Sevenseas Ventures, Harry Ramsden’s aims to have as many as 30 sites in a variety of formats trading north of the Border within the next five years. This week’s openings will take the Scottish tally to four, with the Royal Mile and South Queensferry joining existing outlets in Larbert and Livingston.

Harry Ramsden’s 170-seat restaurant in Newhaven, Edinburgh, closed in 2002 after its franchise owner went into liquidation. The chain’s last outlet in the capital, a quick-service takeaway counter in the former Princes Mall food court, closed about three years ago.

Teixeira – who took over in 2011 following the acquisition of Harry Ramsden’s by Boparan Ventures – is on a campaign to return the chain to the glory days of the early 1990s and is overhauling the estate to “move on with the times”. The Royal Mile restaurant is part of the new “city centre” concept featuring a more urban feel.

“Certainly the initial indicators are that people are responding very well to it,” said Teixeira, who visited the site last week during its initial trial run.

This week’s opening at The 3 Bridges in South Queensferry is the first in Scotland under an agreement between Harry Ramsden’s and Punch Taverns. While Punch retains ownership of the premises, the restaurant chain will take over day-to-day operations serving fish and chips and other pub-friendly fare.

Teixeira says the pub trade is a natural growth area for Harry Ramsden’s, which will maintain the ambience of these sites rather than trying to replicate the seaside feel of its traditional restaurants.

As many as eight more pub locations are expected to open throughout the UK by the end of this year, not all of which will necessarily be with Punch as that agreement is not exclusive.

Harry Ramsden’s aims to boost its UK-wide estate from 50 to 300 outlets within the next five years.