A ONCE humble chippy near York has officially launched its first overseas restaurant in China.

Tony Webster, owner of Scotts Fish & Chips on the A64, unveiled the first of a chain of Scotts franchises planned for the Far East in the city of Chengdu.

A consortium of Chinese businessmen, led by Jimmy Yu, had approached Mr Webster, keen to export the Scotts brand to their home country following world-wide publicity about its popularity among Chinese tourists.

The pair struck a collaboration deal, culminating in the weekend’s opening celebrations of Scotts Chengdu, in the capital of the south-western province of Sichuan. Local dignitaries and celebrities joined Ash Green, the British Consulate-General in Chengdu, and representatives from British Chamber of Commerce, Chengdu, and the China-Britain Business Council.

Mr Webster said: “It was a privilege and an honour to be at the official opening of Scotts Chengdu and I’m very proud that Scotts is now flying the flag for Great Britain in China.

“The opening ceremony was an incredible experience, and it was fantastic to see so many people tucking into traditional fish and chips, prepared and cooked the same way they are in North Yorkshire. And the food tasted great!

“Scotts Chengdu is a fantastic achievement by Jimmy and his team, and I would like to congratulate all concerned in their success in opening this very first shop.

“From the very start, Jimmy wanted authentic British fish and chips, and since meeting we have struck up a very good relationship, working closely in collaboration, with a partnership based on trust, integrity and friendship.

“I know Jimmy has much drive and ambition to build the Scotts brand around China and maybe beyond, with more sites planned for 2020 and I look forward to continuing this adventure working closely alongside him and his team.”

Jimmy Yu, of Scotts Chengdu, said: “This marks an important milestone for Scotts Fish & Chips, the first ever authentic fish and chip shop to expand from the UK to China. We are so pleased to partner with this multi award-winning fish and chip shop and bring the authentic taste all the way from Yorkshire to here, in Taiguli Chengdu.

“Scotts is widely known for its exceptional making of this authentic British dish – from the choice and cut of fish, the secret recipe for the batter, the precise control of the frying temperature and time; here we have the perfect fish and chips.”

Ash Green said: “China is a hugely important market for the UK food and drink sector, and it is a market which is growing. In 2018, UK food and beverage exports to China totalled more than £623m, making China the UK’s eighth largest food and beverage export market. We’re delighted to see Scotts is ‘frying high’ in one of China’s major southern cities, Chengdu, which is famous for its rich culture and world-renowned food.”

It all started when Mr Webster teamed up with Chinese national Will Zhuang - who manages Chinese social media for the tourism organisation Visit York and Leeds City Region - to help promote his venue to Chinese tour groups planning UK visits.

Their marketing strategy led to Scotts launching a Chinese website on Weibo, using the Wechat messaging app because Facebook and Twitter are banned in the China, and translating its menu into Mandarin and Cantonese, which can be downloaded on smartphones and tablets via a QR code.

Mr Zhuang, who promotes York and Yorkshire to the Chinese tourism market, said the opening of Scotts Chengdu was great news for York, with the new restaurant already attracting lots of positive reviews on DaZhong Dianping, a Chinese platform of food reviews.

The collaboration has also been praised by business leaders for demonstrating good British entrepreneurialism and agility.