Yorkshire chippy plans three new restaurants in China

Tony Webster, owner of Scotts fish and chip shop (centre) near York, with JGOO's head of operations Xiaowen Li (left) and senior sales executive Nafisa Meme (right). Picture by Scotts Fish and Chips/PA Wire.
Tony Webster, owner of Scotts fish and chip shop (centre) near York, with JGOO's head of operations Xiaowen Li (left) and senior sales executive Nafisa Meme (right). Picture by Scotts Fish and Chips/PA Wire.

The packed out coaches just keep on pulling in at a chippy located off the busy A64.

In fact, for a clientele of international tourists, a pitstop at Scotts has become almost as synonymous with a visit to nearby York as marvelling at the historic city’s Medieval architecture.

Scotts Fish and Chips was visited by more than 1,000 Chinese tourists each week in July.

Scotts Fish and Chips was visited by more than 1,000 Chinese tourists each week in July.

Such has been the incredible number of Chinese visitors to Tony Webster’s Bilbrough restaurant this summer, the business owner’s overseas expansion plans have trebled in scale.

As reported by The Yorkshire Post earlier this year, Mr Webster has been buoyed so much by the popularity of his chippy with Chinese visitors, that a foray into China already beckoned for his signature fish and chips.

However, rather than opening just a single outlet on the other side of the world, a total of three Scotts restaurants are now in the pipeline in the Far East, with the growth in popularity of its North Yorkshire outlet seemingly holding no bounds.

The first restaurant in China is planned to open in the southwestern city of Chengdu soon, but more are expected to follow after a remarkable July for the business.

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Last month, Scotts attracted more than 1,000 Chinese tourists each week - a whopping 15 per cent of all its customers.

Mr Webster said: “We are looking to open the restaurant in China in September and have had great support from the Department for International Trade.

“It will be very similar to our restaurant here because punters want an authentic experience, but we might make some adjustments, like replacing ketchup with Szechuan sauce.

“We’ve not opened yet, but the interest has been really encouraging.

“The partner we are working with in China said he wants two more sites there, so we are hoping to have three restaurants in China by 2020.”

Visitors to the Bilbrough restaurant are greeted with Cantonese and Mandarin menus, and the most popular meal ordered by its Chinese customers is cod and chips, cooked the traditional Yorkshire way in beef dripping.

The prospect of the dish has become hugely alluring for Chinese tourists ever since President Xi Jinping enjoyed a fish and chips meal with former prime minister David Cameron four years ago.

Scotts first gained notoriety earlier this year when it started to welcome Chinese tourists as it searched for new marketing opportunities.

Mr Webster said its appeal to Chinese diners had surged after the business was marketed to Chinese tour operators, and that the chippy had benefited greatly from partnering with international payment firm JGOO, which has allowed Chinese customers to pay for their portions through popular platforms WeChat Pay and Alipay.

An analysis of recent industry data by the payment firm has also highlighted Yorkshire’s popularity as a tourist destination. Some 6.6 per cent of all nights spent in the UK by Chinese tourists are in the county.

Scotts will be using JGOO to market its new restaurant in China and the company’s director and co-founder, Richard Morecroft, said: “China represents a huge opportunity for British businesses, but many have failed to tap into this or even consider it.

"This is changing - perhaps fuelled by Brexit - and we are seeing a growing list of inquiries from British businesses.”