A U.K. company that manufactures machines that help restaurants make fresh-cut french fries is launching into the North American market with a small plant in Charlottetown.
Hopkins has been operating as a restaurant-equipment manufacturer in the U.K., with a headquarters in Leeds employing 75 people, for more than 50 years.
The Charlottetown operation will manufacture two types of french fry cutters, batter mixers and a high-efficiency fryer if approved by CSA.
Hopkins says he has already secured sales of french fry cutters to two Charlottetown restaurants and a North American-wide chain.
"I'm quite amazed that people are just doing it by hand," company CEO Chris Hopkins told CBC News.
"It's so labour intensive."
Hopkins claims its cutter is more efficient in staff time and in potato wastage. It will sell them for about $6,000.
Hopkins is convinced that the introduction of these machines in North America will lead to big growth.
Restaurateur attracted company
Hopkins took its first look at Charlottetown and the North American market at the prompting of Hamid Sanayie, who moved from England eight years ago and opened Charlottetown's Water Street Fish and Chips.
Sanayie was astonished to see, given the quality and supply of fresh potatoes on P.E.I., the number of restaurants that were serving frozen fries.
"Best place for the potato using frozen french fries," he said.
"I was surprised to see that."
Sanayie is now a director and investor in Hopkins PEI.
ACOA and the provincial government have offered almost $200,000 in labour, market and rental subsidies to the company if it reaches the target of 20 staff. So far four people have been hired -- including one welder.