Rockfish plans expansion amid strong sales growth

The seafood restaurant group founded by food writer Mitch Tonks, Rockfish, has reported 15% like-for-like sales growth in the May to July quarter, ahead of three planned openings in the next 18 months.

Rockfish has five well-established coastal sites in the south west and also owns the Seahorse restaurant in Dartmouth, which has been ranked as one of the best restaurants in the country multiple times.

The company, which is chaired by the co-founder of steak chain Hawksmoor, Will Beckett, has been preparing to grow the business from six to 16 units over a four-year period and has identified a number of suitable locations along the south coast.

Tonks and his board, which also includes Henry Dimbleby (ex-Leon and London Union), Steve Leadbeater (ex-Youngs Seafood) and John Barnes (ex-La Tasca and Harry Ramsden), have spent the last 18 months preparing the company for growth and assessing expansion opportunities as the brand, which produces an average return on capital of 43% with its latest site returning 72%.

Building work has commenced on the Exeter Quays site with three further locations in advanced stages of discussion.

Mitch Tonks, CEO, said: “We opened the first Rockfish in 2010 and have taken the time over the last few years to continue to refine our offer, brand and culture while simultaneously preparing for growth by building our training function, developing our management systems and our pipeline of talented, passionate people.

“We have stuck to everything we always believed in, sustainable sourcing, local seafood
cooked on the day it was landed and strong ethical and community values. We want our guests to be able to experience the very best fresh sustainable seafood enjoyed in unique locations that are not the high street.

“I believe that Rockfish can be a central part of changing the way people view seafood in the UK,” he concluded.

Will Beckett, chairman, added: “Rockfish is an incredible business, and exactly the kind I love – trying to achieve scale with genuine integrity. Mitch has an amazing vision for his business as well as the foresight to prepare adequately for growth. Being part of such an unequivocal success story in the current restaurant climate has been a real pleasure since the day I started.”

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