|Edward Perry, Founder and Managing Director|
Dale Penfold, Founder
Their founding statement is, ‘To cook using the same ingredients and techniques you would at home, so everything looks and tastes homemade.’ All their meals are made without the use of artificial additives and preservatives.
Savoury dishes are made by hand in their kitchen in Kent, puddings at a kitchen in Somerset, and they are primarily sold through a network of their own shops. They have over 80 shops nationwide, with the highest concentration across the South East of England. They also sell through over 400 farm shops and other independent retailers throughout the UK, and online via their website. In 2009 they started to expand as a franchise business; over 30 of their shops are now franchises.
COOK's range of frozen meals comes in various portion sizes (typically 1, 2 and 4). They also produce party food, cakes and puddings, low-calorie Pots for One, children’s meals and an Indian, Chinese and Thai range. Over 90% of the products in their shops are made by COOK themselves, but they also stock a small range of specialised non-frozen goods, including pâtés, crisps, Thai crackers, mustard, and olives.
Edward Perry had worked as a salesman for his parents’ frozen cake company. In 1997 he persuaded a chef and client, Dale Penfold, to leave his job in banqueting and start a frozen food business. They founded 'Cakes and Casseroles' in 1997 and a small kitchen was opened in Gillingham, with the first shop in Farnham soon after. They began working with their pudding supplier, Liz Dove, in July 1997 and within 9 months she supplied them exclusively. The company was renamed 'COOK' in 1999 and, having outgrown the original kitchen, it moved to a new site in Sittingbourne in 2000. By 2005 they had a total of 16 shops.
In 2006 the website www.cookfood.net was launched, enabling home delivery across the UK. In 2007 they launched the wholesale business, which now supplies over 400 farm shops and independent food companies around the UK.
In March 2007 COOK commenced building work on a £2.5million development for a new production facility in Sittingbourne, which opened in October that same year.
In 2015 the puddings kitchen Somerset was bought out and officially became part of COOK. It is still run by Liz Dove.
Controversy and criticismEdit
In 2012 COOK took part in the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For, but did not make the top 200. In the years that followed they came 89th, 65th, 44th, and rising to 28th in 2016, making them the highest placed manufacturer.
They became one of the UK’s first B Corporations in 2013, joining other businesses that consider their social and environmental impact along with their profits. B Corp certification is re-evaluated annually.
In 2015 they were certified by the Living Wage Foundation, and committed to paying all of their employees at least an hourly rate set by an independent body, which is adjusted annually and considerably higher than the UK Government’s minimum wage.
COOK re-branded in 2006 and won The Grocer Gold Award for 'Best Independent Retailer Chain'.
In June 2010, a year after COOK’s first franchises opened in 2009, they won the Express Newspapers Brand Builder Award at the British Franchise Association HSBC Franchisor of the Year awards
COOK dishes have won numerous Great Taste Awards over the years: 10 in 2010; 6 in 2011; 12 in 2012; 13 in 2013; and 9 in 2014.
- "Restodontê | Manutenção preventiva na cozinha". Restodontê. Retrieved 2019-07-18.
- "Cook Trading Ltd recalls own-brand frozen ready meals contaminated with small pieces of plastic". Food Standards Agency. 14 January 2015. Retrieved 26 May 2016.
- "Cook Trading Limited Chilli & Cheese Tortilla Cup Canapes recalled". Food Standards Agency. 6 April 2016. Retrieved 26 May 2016.