'Crucial' weeks ahead for Telford family chippie threatened by soaring bills

A Telford couple trying hard to keep their fish and chip shop business above water believe the future of their shop is still in the balance as they come to the end of a crunch month.

Sophie Hodgkinson and Bledi Piperi of Ye Olde Victorian Fryer
Sophie Hodgkinson and Bledi Piperi of Ye Olde Victorian Fryer

Sophie Hodgkinson and her partner Bledi Piperi of Ye Olde Victorian Fryer in Trench gave themselves a month at the beginning of September to see if they could survive rising costs of utility bills, raw materials and a VAT bill of around £15,000.

The pair have continued trading as normal throughout the month but have had to cut hours of their six staff amidst falling trade. They say they 'don't know' long term whether they will continue.

Sophie said: "Business has been quiet this month as it has been for a while - we have had a lot of good wishes from regular customers and even cards when they heard about our financial predicament but those customers aren't coming as regularly as they were and that is part of the problem.

"We have had to cut staff hours down which we hate to do but it has been necessary to keep going as we are. The landlord is desperate for the building to continue as a shop so even if we have to leave there may be work there for the staff but we will have to see."

She said it was too early to see whether the assistance offered by the Government to cap energy bills for businesses from October 1 would be enough, or the measures announced on Friday to help people with the cost of living crisis.

"We haven't had an electric bill recently and we are having to negotiate over the price and the tariff which may come down with the help. As it is we have been quoted £4,000 a month but are trying to get that down as much as we can so the next few weeks may be crucial," Sophie said.

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