Swanage fish and chip chain hooks top UK title

Comedian Jason Manford has presented a Swanage fish and chip business with a top prize at the National Federation of Fish Friers awards ceremony in London.

Harlees picked up the award for best multiple operator in the UK for the high standard in its eight shops across Dorset and Wiltshire, including its Swanage shops in Station Road and in the High Street at Herston.

National Federation of Fish Friers

Harlees directors collected their award from quiz show host Jason Manford

Best multiple operator in Britain

Harlees was selected as best in the country in its category, beating off final three opposition from businesses in Hertfordshire and Durham, after a series of anonymous visits to their shops by industry experts.

Their award was presented to them by the BBC quiz show host and comedian Jason Manford on Tuesday 28th February 2023 at the London event attended by 600 guests.

As winners, Harlees directors will get a trip to Norway for a voyage onboard one of the country’s frozen-at-sea vessels, to experience the Norwegian fleet’s world-class sustainable fishing and processing facilities.

Harlees fish and chips

Award winning fish and chips from Harlees are now officially best in Britain

Family business in its fourth generation

The family business is run by husband and wife Richard and Lynda Long, along with their eldest daughter Kaylee Herbert who has joined them to become the fourth generation of the family in the fish and chip business.

Harlees was launched by Richard in 1997 at Verwood in Dorset, although his father Derek Long and grandfather Percy had previously been in the fish and chip business themselves since 1946.

At Harlees Swanage with their award, from left: Lynda, Joe, Jennifer, Zoultan, Abin and Richard

“We are absolutely ecstatic to have won”

Richard, who now runs shops at eight locations including Corfe Mullen and Poole Quay, and is about to add a ninth at Andover in Hampshire, said:

“We are absolutely ecstatic. I have been working in fish and chip shops since the age of nine peeling spuds in my father’s shop and have now been running the business for 25 years, so to have been given a major award, the Oscars of our industry, means so much.

“It is all about the team – we are so fortunate to have great managers at our shops and they attract the best staff, so we have been able to build the best team from the roots upwards.

“As a team, you are only as good as your weakest player, and our team has worked incredibly hard through some quite challenging times, and thoroughly deserve this recognition.

“I’m not going to complain about the last few years – we were able to do quite a good trade through the months of Covid restriction, and as for the cost of living crisis, every business in Britain is in the same situation and we have to get on with it.

“In times like these, you have to up your game and do things to the best of your ability. We are keeping up the quality of our food, staff, service and experience, and the customers seem to appreciate it.”

Richard Long and Kaylee Herbert

Richard Long and daughter Kaylee Herbert, pictured before the awards

Unique batter took 18 months to perfect

Harlees attributes a lot of its success to making most of their food in-house, including tartare sauce, mushy peas, fish cakes and pea fritters, and having their own unique batter, which took 18 months to perfect.

Their fresh fish, cod and haddock from Norwegian or occasionally Icelandic waters, are from a fully sustainable source and frozen within four hours of being caught to preserve their flavour.


The BBC’s Unbeatable quiz show host Jason Manford presented the awards

Winners receive a study trip to Norway

Richard said:

“Freshness is the key to good fish and chips – it needs to have top quality ingredients and to be kept as fresh as possible.

“Our batter is light and crispy and melts in your mouth, and it doesn’t take away any of the taste of that wonderful fish. We know our customers love it, and it is fantastic to have national judges agree!”

The national awards ceremony was held at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge in London, the UK’s largest event dedicated to raising standards across the fish and chip industry.

Winners of each category receive a study trip to Norway hosted by headline sponsor, Seafood from Norway, which will include a voyage onboard one of the country’s frozen-at-sea vessels, to experience first-hand the Norwegian fleet’s world-class sustainable fishing and processing facilities.

National Federation of Fish Friers

President of the National Federation of Fish Friers Andrew Crook

Blown away by the standard of entries

President of the National Federation of Fish Friers Andrew Crook said:

“Celebrating our vibrant and spirited industry was an absolute pleasure. We were blown away by the standard of entries this year, all of which have shown an incredible dedication to serving the nation’s favourite dish, in what has been a tumultuous year for the sector.

“Finding the best operators who have managed multiple sites during a difficult year for the industry is so important to highlight and celebrate their success.

“It’s amazing to see so many strong businesses like Harlees thriving, and we’re looking forward to seeing them continue to grow in 2023!”

Harlees’ second outlet in Swanage is the Herston Fishbar in the High Street

Harlees replaced Harry Ramsden’s

Harlees’ premises in Swanage, on the corner of Station Road and Shore Road opposite The Mowlem theatre, was previously the Harry Ramsden restaurant, and is just coming up for its first anniversary in business.

The company also has a second outlet in town at Herston, and is active in the local community, sponsoring events like the Swanage Carnival in the past.

Kaylee Herbert, fourth generation in the business, at the national awards ceremony

Award show meal was fish and mash

Company director and fourth generation in the fish and chip business, Kaylee Herbert said:

“We are really proud of our team and we could not have done it without them. They have worked so hard for this during the pandemic and they really deserve it.

“At Harlees we have always been devoted to ensuring customers have the best experience and the best-tasting fish and chips, and we are passionate about maintaining our caring, personal family feel business.

“We were over the moon to win the award – like us, a lot of the fish and chip shops at the awards ceremonies are family businesses, so it’s a really good way to spotlight some of the best local firms in the UK.

“It was an amazing show, with a lovely meal of cod and mashed potatoes. I did feel for the kitchen staff, though, they weren’t just making a meal for a big event, they also had the pressure of a room full of fish and chip experts!”

Further information

  • More about Harlees is on its website

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