Cook concessions

The company said it ‘had budgeted to repeat the stellar performance of 2017-18’

Frozen food retailer Cook has suffered its first EBITDA decline in a decade, though sales were up almost 10%.

Cook increased turnover by 9.7% to £64m for the year to March 2019, according to accounts filed this week at Companies House.

However, profits before tax fell 1.6% to £2.5m, while EBITDA fell to £5.2m from £5.9m - “the first step back in a decade”, it said.

The family-run business called the profits fall “a disappointment” and suggested it had been overconfident in its forecasts based on the success of the previous financial year.

In its directors’ report that accompanied the accounts, Cook said: “In setting out our budget we were guilty of being overconfident with our sales predictions, following an amazing performance the previous year.

“We also made some much-needed investments in central overheads on the assumption that strong sales would pay for them.”

It went on to say “the fact we had budgeted to repeat the stellar performance of 2017-18 meant this outcome felt much worse than it was, given the backdrop of Brexit uncertainty, continuing carnage on the high street and a record-breaking heatwave in the summer, never good news for Cook sales”.

In March last year, Cook founder Edward Perry told The Grocer it was halting new store openings due to Brexit uncertainty and was instead focusing on its concessions business.

The latest results show the concessions arm grew by 17% to £25.3m while home delivery and click & collect was up 25% to £11m.

The results also reveal that following the end of the financial year, Cook took out a new £9m loan after refinancing in order to pay for its new kitchen. The Cook Casseroles facility in Kent is due to open in February 2020.