It is impossible to imagine post-war Britain without takeaway food. Fish & Chips, traditionally the nations favourite dish, first became popular in the 1920s; then in the second half of the century, people’s tastes became more cosmopolitan. Not only has the choice of food and catering outlets grown wider, but also standards of hygiene have improved and the range and diversity of catering equipment products have also increased.
Vince Hopkins, founder of the business, was a motor mechanic by trade, and an inventor by nature. On the 17th September 1957, Vince handed over the sum of £50 and became the proud owner of 99 Commercial Road, Leeds – and the family business was established. It was decided that the new business be an electrical goods shop, but when a customer asked Vince to refurbish a potato peeler, he saw a niche in the market and added the renewal and refurbishment of food preparation equipment like chippers, peelers and mixers for the catering industry, to the list of services that he offered.
Over the years, the business expanded, relocated and employed a number of skilled workers. Not satisfied with just repairing equipment – Vince decided he could build his own. It was not long before manufacturing became the main business activity and the company started making Fish & Chip frying ranges and specialist refrigeration and with the conversion of existing equipment from Town to North Sea gas – the company prospered.
But every story has its hiccups, and in the mid-70s the potato shortage and the Cod War forced Vince to adapt once more. Having seen, on a trip to York, the poor workmanship of narrow boats on the river he decided that, rather than lay his men off, he would build boats in the Mill.
In later years Vince’s health suffered but his business, as the saying goes, was his life and he remained in charge until his death in 1992. Hopkins (where boats no longer feature) is now in the hands of the second and third generations of the Hopkins family – Vince’s son Chris, and his granddaughter, Victoria. Chris Hopkins served as an apprentice in engineering after leaving school in 1968, as Vince insisted that he should have a trade outside the family business. Victoria, who has a degree in Business Management, joined the company in 1998.
Over the years, the firm has built up such an in-depth understanding of the needs of the catering industry they now make a point of offering an individual and personal service. They are experienced in installing equipment in awkward settings, run training courses to familiarise customers with the products, provide back up and technical support and make sure customers are aware of all the environmental health regulations.
The company has a workforce that includes a team of specialists, designers, and a fleet of mobile, certified gas, refrigeration and electrical engineers. Loyalty is important to this family run firm and many employees have been with the company for over 30 years. Many clients have enjoyed a long-term relationship with Hopkins, relying on the firm to advise them, supply the best and most appropriate equipment and maintain it through its working life. This ever expanding customer base is not limited to the UK as the company now has a growing export trade to America, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Tanzania, Abu Dhabi, the Ukraine – even as far as Australia
Victoria Hopkins says, “Here at Hopkins we understand that you want to provide your customers with a quality product at a competitive price and we make it our priority to do the same for you. Having been in the business for over 50 years we have a good understanding of the industry’s needs and because of this we aim to provide you with all the services you require.
Be it design and planning, capital or ancillary commercial catering equipment, installation, maintenance, spares or even just advice or technical assistance, we’ll go that extra mile to track down exactly what you do want”
Hopkins’ product range is vast and diverse. Along with the traditional frying ranges which are all made to customer specifications – they also supply chippers, peelers, fish fridges, batter mixers, coldrooms, bains maries, grills, griddles, fly killers, air conditioning, kebab grills, ovens – plus much, much more.
Vince Hopkins’ reputation for reliability has been upheld to this day.