A CHAIN which runs a much-loved chippy has reached the final of a major national competition, to the delight of customers.

Churchill’s Fish and Chips has a total of 13 takeaways and restaurants in Essex, based in Pitsea, Rawreth, Rayleigh, Chelmsford and South Woodham Ferrers.

It has reached the final of the British Takeaway Awards for best restaurant chain.

The next stage is a mystery shop and then a judging panel will question the five finalists. Winners will be announced at the London awards on September 6.

Customers say they love the food and service at the business.

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Dave Gowland, 67, from Basildon said: “What makes Churchill’s stand out apart from the amazing food is the staff.

“The workers are always friendly and efficient and I try to visit at least once a week.”

Reviewing the business on Trip Advisor one customer said: “We go around three to four times a month.

“We travel from Grays which is a fair distance as this is the best fish and chips around.

“We always use the app and collect, and it’s so easy. Nice size fish size and the chicken is also very tasty and they never skimp on anything.

“If gherkins are a little smaller, they’ll give you two. It’s a great place and staff are so friendly and welcoming. If you’ve never been, try here, you will love it.”

Bosses say staff are a key part of its success after having to change their way of working when the pandemic arrived.

James Lipscombe, 40, chief executive of Churchills, said he is over the moon the firm has become a finalist.

He said: “It’s fantastic to get the recognition for all the hard work we’ve been doing to transform the business in the pandemic and the work we continue to do to serve great quality fish and chips, deliveries and click and collection too. The team had to change and adapt the ways we have been working and now we have invested in more than 80 delivery vehicles.”