Frozen ready meals retailer Cook is squaring up against M&S in a battle over its bigger rival’s Cook! product range.
Cook, which won the best independent retail chain award in The Grocer Gold Awards last year, claims that the packaging and wording of M&S’s Cook! range is so similar to its own lines that it is causing its customers to believe that it is supplying M&S with products.
In its latest Cook Report to customers, Cook claims M&S’s recent extension of the range has increased confusion and urges its customers to avoid buying the range.
James Perry, MD of Cook, said: “We are not against M&S’s Cook! range but are against our customers being confused by M&S’s actions. It is deeply damaging to our business when customers think we have sold out and started supplying a supermarket as we lose our point of difference.
“We would never supply a supermarket and it is vital that this is clear to customers.”
Perry said he had tried to persuade M&S to change its branding for years but had met “a bully boy approach from the big company school of dealing with minnows”.
However, a spokeswoman for M&S said that the retailer was puzzled by Perry’s comments. She claimed that M&S had launched its range before Cook had rebranded itself under its current name in 1999.
“When we registered our trademark in 2000 there were 50 other instances of the word Cook being used by retailers. No one has exclusive rights as it is too generic a word,” she added.
Perry told The Grocer that he contested M&S’s statement.
Beth Brooks