Harry Ramsden began his business in 1928, serving fish and chips from a wooden hut in White Cross, Guiseley, West Yorkshire. Three years later he opened a sit-down fish and chip ‘palace’ on the same site, which still attracts devotees from far and wide. The interior was modelled on the oak panelling and grand chandeliers on London’s Ritz Hotel. In 1954 Harry sold the company to his business partner Eddie Stoke for £37,500, who later sold it to Essex-based Associated Fisheries.
Granada Ltd bought Harry Ramsden’s for £20 million in 1999, in a franchising deal aimed at developing kiosk-style units in motorway locations. In 2000, Compass merged with Granada and the concept was rolled out into schools, Post Office canteens, Butlins and Haven Holidays.
In April 2006, Compass sold Harry Ramsden’s along with its specialist airports and railways division SSP for £1.8 billion to EQT Partners of Sweden. Under SSP ownership, food quality was dramatically improved and waiting time reduced. SSP sold Harry Ramsden’s in January 2010 to Boparan Ventures Limited (BVL), the investment vehicle of Birmingham-based businessman Ranjit Boparan.