Frozen ready meals producer and retailer Cook has embarked on an ambitious new expansion phase after posting double-digit sales growth last year.
Pre-tax profits rose 40% from £1.7m to £2.4m for the year ended March 31 2014. Turnover was up 12.2% from £31.9m to £35.8m.
It now plans to roll out the delivery service it piloted in South West London to Muswell Hill, Southgate, Islington and Woodford Green in North London.
James Rutter, director of brand and strategy, said the pilot had seen delivery account for up to a fifth of shop sales out of its Clapham, Barnes, Chiswick and Fulham outlets.
Cook has launched a new delivery hub based out of its Maidenhead shop to cover both Maidenhead and Henley, and a similar service in North Kent based out of its main logistics facility.
It also created a new click & collect service in September and has unveiled a Shop-in-a-Shop format – a clearly branded area owned by Cook in other retailers, which stock virtually its full range. Rutter said five had been launched so far this year – most recently Budgens Mortimer outside Reading, Berkshire, and in Barkers & Larners of Holt, Suffolk. Two more are planned to open this year.
The company has 78 branded Cook shops split about equally between franchised and company-owned.
Four new company-owned shops have opened this year in the London areas of Woodford Green, Islington, Southfields and Southgate, and three franchises – West Bridgford, Nottingham; Eastbourne, East Sussex; and Solihull, in the West Midlands – are scheduled to open next week.
Another company-owned shop will open in Maida Vale before Christmas and one more is planned this financial year, Rutter added.
Edward Perry, managing director, wrote in the company’s accounts that the directors were convinced that creating, trialling and rolling out profitable new models for multi-channel shopping was one of the business’s biggest commercial opportunities.
“To this end, we launched a new design for our website, which is responsive to the device on which you’re viewing it,” he said.
Not only did this create a much better shopping experience on mobile and tablet devices, he said, but it had also enabled the company to provide much more information about its food online, including ingredients and nutritional information and to showcase its videos and photography.
Rutter added it was rolling out new branding for its 20 concessions in Booths.
“We’ve put in new point-of-sale branding, creating much more impact for our area of the store and for the frozen section generally. This included clearly branding the freezers and installing new, in-freezer merchandising systems to make it a much clearer and easier shopping experience for customers,” he said.
During the year Cook also became a certified B Corporation – an international business classification based on its aspiration to be a force for good in society,