Rockfish, the 9-strong seafood restaurant group led by Mitch Tonks, has achieved record results in a year that has seen sweeping changes in the business to set it up to thrive in a post-Covid environment and move back into growth mode, with 3 new openings planned for the next 12 months.
In the financial year ending April 22, Rockfish announced sales of £13m, restaurant EBITDA of £2.9m and group EBITDA £1.34m.
However, what has been most significant at Rockfish has been the development of the business, as Mitch and his team have adapted to the challenges of staffing and supply chain, while also developing the restaurant business and moving into other adjacencies.
Rockfish has further improved its world class supply chain by acquiring two of their major suppliers, Brixham Seafish and Hillside Foods. This has helped to create a unique integrated supply chain based directly on the quayside in Brixham, allowing landings from small scale fishermen, including their own boat named Rockfisher.
These improvements have not only allowed the business to adapt to inflationary pressures but have also enabled it to be the first to drop cod from their menus and replace it with native species as supply chains are devastated by the conflict in Ukraine and resulting sanctions.
The investment, and the opening of a modern fishmongers in Brixham, has given Rockfish a platform to allow people to buy fresh ready-to-cook seafood, with a range sauces and accompaniments, anywhere in the UK dispatched on the day of landing. Rockfish also launched the first range of British tinned fish, which has become a favourite in premium retailers and restaurants nationwide.
While the management team has seen some changes, with David Durban (who has previously worked with MJMK and Brindisa amongst others) replacing the outgoing David Strauss, and Torie Dieppe (ex-Hawksmoor) replacing Laura Cowan, the business has invested a huge amount into recruitment, training and development as it seeks to consolidate its position as an employer of choice in the South West.
With an enviable record of success for the core restaurant business at Rockfish, the team is now focused on building the pipeline for future growth with sites secured in Salcombe, Sidmouth & Topsham and a number of other locations under consideration.
Mitch Tonks, Founder and CEO, noted, “I am extremely proud of what the team have achieved at Rockfish over the last two years. We always set out to create amazing seafood restaurants using produce landed by local boats and small-scale fishermen.
'Covid allowed us the space to think differently, build a better business and focus on culture and our clear mission to be the leading sustainable seafood restaurant business in the UK.
'Whilst the industry faces multiple challenges in terms of inflation and staffing, I believe the investments made this year in our supply chain and our people gives us a clear competitive advantage that will allow us to build a more significant business over the next few years.
Will Beckett, Chairman of Rockfish (and Co-Founder and CEO of Hawksmoor), added, “Having known Mitch for years, I’ve heard him talk for many years about ‘changing the way the UK experiences seafood’ and about being a world class employer.
'Five years on from joining as Chairman, I can see firsthand that this is exactly what he and his team are doing. With awards like Restaurateur of the Year at the Cateys, it is also obvious to me that people are noticing what many of us have always known – that a very special business is being built in the South West, and I expect it to develop significantly from this point.”