Blakemans and the fish and chip shop industry

During the late 1970’s, the nations favourite takeaway staple was in jeopardy due to the short supply of North Atlantic Cod.

Desperate to substitute fish with an affordable protein source in their shops, Mr James Blakeman saw this opportunity and started supplying shops with a frozen sausage that could deep fry from frozen without splitting.

And from that moment things went from strength-to-strength and the chip shop sausage has been at the forefront of sales ever since.

Wind forward several decades and his business - James T. Blakeman and Co. Ltd based in Newcastle-under-Lyme – is now widely recognised as one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of sausage and meat products.

Its position as a key supplier to the fish and chip shop industry is cemented to the extent it is now producing 400 tons of sausages at its state-of-the-art complex every week with Blakemans’ Supreme Brand and Premier Brand sausages consumed in huge amounts by the adoring British public.

James Morris, Head of Business Development at the company, said: “We are proud of our long-standing relationship with the fish and chip industry. Over the years we have built up a very detailed understanding of their requirements and I think we deliver on those time and time again which is why the shops enjoy working with us and our products and why their customers enjoy eating them!”

Producing great food and then supplying it to chip shops the length and breadth of the UK is however only one part of a recipe for success.

Staff in the shops have to know how to serve up quality items each and every day; understand food hygiene techniques and legislation; have good customer service skills.

And that is where training and development comes in.

Mr Morris said: “We are proud to sponsor an award for training and developing staff at the National Fish and Chip Awards. What we are trying to do through our sponsorship is encourage entrepreneurial owners of the businesses to be mindful of their role in the future success of the business and the industry.

“This mirrors the attitude we take at Blakemans. We always have an eye on the future of our company and that is why we place huge importance on developing talent and training staff.”

As one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of sausage and meat products, James T. Blakeman & Co. Ltd have always been very conscious of their statutory and regulatory obligations in terms of staff training.

An internal trainer works hard to ensure health and safety, food hygiene and other work-based learning is focused on the needs of the shop floor to ensure staff are really well- equipped for their roles within this £30 million turnover a year business.

Specialists are also regularly brought in to ensure essential topics including first aid and working at heights are delivered to a quality level.

The internal training resource has been backed up by an affiliation to the National Skills Academy to ensure the shop floor staff have all the learning required to do their jobs well. A skills’ matrix is also used to tells the firm when training has been completed, the level achieved and when refreshers are needed.

Management skills are honed via the Blakemans’ Excellence Academy which was established several years ago.

Mr Morris said: “We grow and develop people within the business and this means when individuals progress they take those excellent shop floor taught skills with them into the management arena. However, we felt this wasn’t fully preparing them for management duties.

“The academy tackles this and so far it has been incredibly successful because with the knowledge we are equipping them with comes a new found confidence to push their management boundaries for the benefit of the business.”

However, for Blakeman’s, our support for training and personal development doesn’t just extend to the workplace.

Several years ago, Managing Director Philip Blakeman had the pleasure of meeting a local man who was competing part-time in strong man competitions.

Knowing how important devoting time, effort and dedication to training needed to be, Mr Blakeman, along with other local businessmen, pledged sponsorship to enable this ambitious person to quit his day job and dedicate himself fully to training for his ultimate goal.

Millions of television viewers saw him achieve his dream and in 2017 Eddie Hall was crowned the World’s Strongest Man.

We have retained our links with Eddie and were delighted to have him as Blakemans’ guest for the National Fish and Chip Awards where he got to see how the same dedication to training in another industry can lead to achieving goals.

Blakemans would like to congratulate Krispies in Exmouth for a fantastic double at the National Fish and Chip Awards – they not only received the training and development award but were also voted the UK’s number 1 fish and chips in the country!

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