Cook co-founder Edward Perry claimed at the IGD Convention this week that the gloomy financial climate made "no difference" to the premium frozen retailer. "I won't accept the economy as an excuse," Perry said. "We are independent. We have no venture capitalists slapping us around saying you must do this, you must do that."

Perry also blasted supermarket ready meals. "Cook focuses obsessively on the product," he said. "In supermarkets I see beautifully packaged products at an attractive price, but in your mouth it tastes horrible."

Cook was currently opening one new shop a month, he added.