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How I bought a fish and chip shop

Interview with...

Gurpal Benning
Worked in family businesses
Business name:
Fish and chips
When bought:
Few months ago
Price paid:

The fish and chip shop Gurpal Benning opened in Birmingham with his cousin and brother is the first of many businesses the  entrepreneur is hoping to open.

"In 24 months I plan to be in a position where I can give up work altogether," he says.

Gurpal, who is married with no children as yet, says he started thinking about buying a business because like many others he was tired of working for someone else.

"It was frustration with full-time employment really - coming to the realisation that all the work and effort you put in isn't just for yourself, it's for your employer.

If something feels right then you should just go for it

Gurpal Benning, Fish and Chip Shop owner

"By working for yourself you might be earning less money but at least it's more rewarding."

Gurpal and his business partners started off looking for a business in the retail sector, "because that's what we felt would be easiest for us".

He revealed: "We don't have that much business experience and so off-licences, newsagents and franchises were appealing."

Right price

Then the fish and chip shop came up. Despite the fact that it had been closed for a year and a half, it was too good an opportunity to pass up.

"We stumbled across it and thought 'wow, lets give it a go'."

Gurpal says the internet was the most helpful source of information when researching.

"We used quite a few websites. They gave us the opportunity to really compare what was on offer in the rest of the market.

Not only did they get the right business, they got the right price.

"We compared our business against other, similar businesses for sale. We looked at their turnovers and other figures and realised we were on to something good. We negotiated down and got what we wanted.

"The business is leasehold and we tried negotiating with the landlord to get the rent down as well, but it didn't work unfortunately. He thought we were asking too much."

As well as online research, the partners spent a lot of time speaking to people already in the trade.

"That was really encouraging," says Gurpal. "Having a family friend in the fish and chip shop trade helped enormously.

"If nothing else we felt we could really trust him - his experience gave him credibility.

Now, Gurpal's 25-year-old younger brother is managing the outlet and business is going brilliantly. Owners of a fish and chip shop for only a few months, they have already set the wheels in motion to buy another fish and chip shop 10 minutes down the road.

Gurpal also has his sights on starting or buying a property lettings business in the Birmingham area.

Some interviewees have found the business buying process fraught with difficulty, but Gurpal is sanguine about it.

"Buying a business is a lot easier than you think. We spent a year trying to get this business - looking at opportunities, thinking 'is this right, is that right' - but if something feels right then you should just go for it."

Now the shop is up and running, have there been any problems?

"Not really," he says. "Obviously, it's got its challenges because we all have different views, but the amount of support we have had from friends and family has been outstanding."

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