H Forman & Son

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by H Forman & Son's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from H Forman & Son is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


Owner Lance Forman, quality-
assuring smoked salmon sides
Hand-sliced sides,
beautifully gift-
packed, since 1905
Few know that smoked salmon originated in the Jewish
community of London’s East End. Initially unaware of
a native salmon, they imported it from the Baltic and
preserved it by salt-curing and oak-smoking – it was a cuisine
they had always enjoyed. At London’s Billingsgate, they
eventually noticed the arrival of native salmon during summer
months, which they then switched to. The finished product
quickly became popular and was taken up by fine-dining
establishments and food halls across the capital. Smoked
salmon as a gourmet food – the marriage of Scottish salmon
and the London curing technique – was born. H Forman & Son,
established in 1905, is the only remaining original east London
salmon smoker. Director and MEP Lance Forman says more.
The historical development of smoked salmon
What made the smoked salmon Britain’s first home-grown gourmet delicacy was
not the smoke flavour but the ability to concentrate and preserve the flavour of
wild salmon. After drying the fish through salt-curing, the smoke essentially created
a seal which attached to the tacky surface of the cured fillets. In the days before
refrigeration, this meant that sides of smoked salmon could be hung in cool larders.
Before carving the sides, the protective smoky crust was removed to reveal the
succulent flesh of smoked salmon which lay beneath. This method continued right
through the 20th century until the onset of salmon farming in the 1980s. Even until
that time, there were around a dozen salmon smokehouses in London’s East End,
and Forman’s are now the lastremaining.
»Owner and Managing
Director: LanceForman
»Founded in 1905
»Located in Fish Island,
»Services: Smoked salmon
»No. of employees: 80
»For many years, Forman’s
smoked salmon could be
found in the kitchens of both
Houses of Parliament
H Forman & Son
Highlighting best practice
Salmon farming was seen as a job-
creating opportunity, and new grant-
funded factories started to spring
up, which made it impossible for the
traditional businesses to compete.
However, we decided against engaging
in mass production, and many of those
who did opt for mass production
eventually failed, which seemed to
be a vindication of our approach. By
staying true to our artisan approach,
we resolved never to compromise on
our traditional methods or quality.
Mass production led to smoked salmon
being introduced into supermarkets,
and there was an ever-increasing
drive to reduce prices. This has been
achieved in a number of ways. The
first method is simply achieved by
purchasing cheaper raw material.
Almost three-quarters of salmon now
sold in the UK comes from Norway,
with Norwegian salmon being typically
ten to 15 per cent cheaper than
Scottish salmon. However, it takes
four days for the fish to arrive in
the UK, which means it has already
lost a significant part of its shelf life,
negatively affecting both the taste and
the nutritional value.
The second cost-saving method is
achieved by avoiding the weight
loss associated with dry-curing
and smoking. Using the traditional
“London cure”, around 25 per cent of
the weight of the salmon fillet is lost
by drying and removal of the smoky
crust. With the end product being sold
by the kilo, this makes the product
more expensive, so modern producers
attempt to avoid the weight loss,
effectively selling water for the price of
salmon. This is why cheaper smoked
salmon is often slimy textured and too
smoky, concealing the use of less fresh
fish. Most mass production smoked
salmon also has sugar added, which is
unnecessary but is used to rebalance
overly smoky or salty fish, again aimed
at the mass production market. Much
to our dismay, some salmon smokers
don’t even smoke the salmon at all
now, but instead spray it with liquid
smoke flavouring.
Every step is hand-
prepared to our time-
honoured methods
Our proud
heritage has
through our
PGI protected
food status –
the first food
and drink
company in
London to
receive this
Protected status
Our role in all of this is to be experts
in our craft. We have never lost sight
of our artisanal origins, nor have we
surrendered to trends. Our proud
heritage has become recognised
through our PGI protected food status
– the first food and drink company in
London to receive this honour, making
London the first capital city in Europe
to have a food or drink named after it
with protected status. We are now on
the food-tourist map of London and
regularly host tours.
By never losing sight of our roots, we
succeeded where others failed. When
one looks at demand at the moment,
one can see a greater preference
emerging for traditional foods. This
gives us good reason to be optimistic
moving forward. Ultimately, however,
this is not us being Luddites or trying
to be trendy; instead, we do this
because we believe the traditional
method results in a finer product.
Working on a political level
Having run a small business for 25
years, I felt particularly compelled
to get involved in the Brexit debate.
I was widely quoted in the 2016
referendum campaign for saying that
EU regulations were hopelessly out of
tune with the needs of industry. The
example I gave was that we have to
provide excessive printed information
for every single bespoke product we
make, even if we make only a handful
of them a year. When you have to do
this for every customised order, this is
far too onerous.
One-size-fits-all rules can never work
for both SMEs and large businesses,
and with the majority of people
employed in the private sector working
for SMEs, I felt they needed to have
a voice. Too often when government
talks about business, they are referring
to the views of major corporates,
which do not represent the majority
of the business community. Larger
corporations have time to lobby and
agitate for change, often to protect
their business at the expense of others.
SMEs are simply too busy with day-to-
day activities to involve themselves at a
political level.
Additionally, many smaller businesses
feared being vocal during the Brexit
debate. With the population divided,
there is always a risk of offending half
your customers. In my case, I took the
decision to speak out and hoped that
our clients would respect my views,
even if they disagreed. Thankfully,
to date, they have been very loyal.
Perhaps the quality of Forman’s
smoked salmon speaks for itself.
We are now
on the food-
tourist map of
London and
regularly host
Forman’s Smokehouse
on Fish Island,
increasingly renowned
for its tours


This article was sponsored by H Forman & Son. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster