Premium frozen ready meals retailer Cook has ­reported improved sales and profits as it continues to expand its franchise ­operation.

Pre-tax profits increased 64.4% to £0.66m in the year to 31 March 2011 on sales up 15.7% to £22.03m. Founder Edward Perry said most of the company's growth came from its franchise arm, which grew by more than 400%.

Cook's 50-store operation is divided between 32 company-owned and 18 franchise stores and it plans to continue to focus on its franchising strategy. As well as opening 10 new franchise stores last year, the company secured listings for its products in 50 additional independents.

Bringing logistics arrangements in-house also significantly cut costs and brought operational benefits, Perry said. "Long-term market trends continue to be favourable, such as increasing demands for nutritious and high-quality convenience food. In addition, the changing way in which customers interact with brands gives Cook a real opportunity to take advantage of its unique market position," he added.

Cook also paid off over a third of its debt, excluding loans from shareholders, over the year, leaving it with £1.58m to repay. Members of the Perry ­family are owed £940,000 as long-term creditors.