Chicken magnate gobbles up Harry Ramsden's with promises of 100 new outlets

FISH and chip chain Harry Ramsden's has been acquired by a food and restaurant entrepreneur in a deal he says will create 100 new branches and provide a springboard to expand and revitalise the iconic Yorkshire brand.

The deal comes a year after the new owner, Ranjit Boparan of Boparan Ventures Limited, rescued the Fishworks restaurant chain founded by chef Mitch Tonks from administration.

At 43, West Bromwich-based Mr Boparan is a self-made entrepreneur, owning a number of food sector businesses including the Buxted chicken processor 2 Sisters Food Group, which supplies products to Tesco and Marks & Spencer. It has a huge plant in Scunthorpe.

Harry Ramsden's, founded in 1928, has 36 restaurants and takeaways including its original base at Guiseley, near Leeds – the largest fish and chip shop in the world.

It has had a number of owners in recent years, passing into Swedish and Australian hands in 2006, following the sale by the catering group Compass of its Moto service station business.

Mr Boparan said: "Harry Ramsden's is a great British institution and we want to put it back on the map by focusing on the fundamental basics of superb service, exceptional value and, most importantly, the very best tasting fish and chips you can buy.

"We are planning to open a further 100 locations within the next five years and expect to create around 600 new jobs, taking care to ensure that customers are guaranteed the same consistent quality at every single store."

Mr Boparan has installed Fishworks CEO Marija Simovic to head up Harry Ramsden's.

It was in 1928 that Harry Ramsden started selling fish and chips from a wooden hut in Guiseley, West Yorkshire, and his secret recipe is still used today.

Mr Boparan and his wife Baljinder are among Britain's wealthiest couples. In 2008, the Sunday Times listed them at 581 on its Rich List, with an estimated wealth of 135m.

Also that year, their son Antonio, then 21, was jailed for 21 months after causing a crash while speeding at 72mph in a 30mph, which left a one-year-old toddler permanently brain damaged.