The business has come a long way since its first two customers, Tony McDermott of McDermott’s in Croydon, south London, and the Long brothers in Verwood, Dorset. Cox’s of Letchworth and the Harry Ramsden’s chain were just two of the many businesses that followed in their footsteps, recognising the benefits of Dutch frying ranges in the late ’90s.
Since then, KFE has grown tremendously year-on-year, retaining loyal restaurant and takeaway customers while constantly attracting new ones. Most recently these include the award-winning Port & Starboard in Cornwall and exciting new projects with top chefs Lenny Carr-Roberts and Tom Kerridge.
Maintaining relationships with its customers has always been at the heart of the KFE business, something Paul enjoys because he says “there are so many great people in this industry”.
He adds: “Having that close relationship, not just with our customers and suppliers but also with our manufacturers QBTEC in Holland, means that we are able to share our expertise, listen to our customers’ needs and develop solutions that help to move the market forwards.
“I like to think we are facilitators, recognising a customer’s problem but being able to help them through our industry contacts. The fact that we’ve put so much focus on customer service is also reflected in the size of our sales team because we want our guys out there in shops, visiting customers and developing those long-term relationships.”
If ever there was a time that demonstrates the benefit of relationships built over years it’s this year when, due to Covid restrictions, the sales team have been unable to visit shops.
Paul adds: “We’ve had so many existing customers come to us and order new ranges because we have that relationship with them, they trust in us and in our equipment. It has proved the core fundamentals of our business are right.”
KFE’s relationship with its partners at QBTEC in Holland has also developed into a long-standing deep friendship with Gijs and Marejke Okkerman. Paul adds: “In another similarity to ourselves, their children, Dries and Marijne, and son-in-law, Jeroen, have also joined the company, helping to maintain their position as Europe’s number one manufacturer of the highest quality frying equipment.”
Commenting on the company’s achievements over the last 25 years, Paul says he couldn‘t be prouder of how far the business has come.
“We’re in a totally different position today to when we first started with no leads and no shops to take people to,” he adds. “Now we have quality, award-winning shops the length and breadth of the UK and relationships which have developed beyond business to become close friendships.
“My family are involved now too, which in the early years was never part of the plan. It makes me extremely proud to know that they will continue KFE for the next 25 years.
“The fish and chip industry is made up of many family businesses and I think many people can relate to that feeling of excitement, nurturing your children to take a fantastic business to the next level.”