Ten Question Interview with Meg from COOKMonday, March 23rd, 2015
The frozen food specialist COOK has now been based in Tudor Arcade for over two years. Having recently taken over the COOK franchise we took the opportunity to catch up with the new franchisee owner Meg Gibbons to find out how it’s all going.
1. What is your history working with COOK and how did end up taking it on as your own independent business?
I started working for Cook back in January 2013 where I did my training in the Guernsey Cook store, this is where my bosses were based as they had the Guernsey and Jersey Cook stores. The Dorchester Cook store opened in February 2013 and had a fantastic response from the public and neighbouring shops.
Last June I met with my bosses in Guernsey. They explained to me that they wanted to sell the franchise of Dorchester Cook as their plans had changed. The main reason they invited me over for the meeting was to ask if I wanted to buy the franchise off them as they knew how much I loved it and how I managed the store and could see potential in me. I excepted there offer and I took over the franchise in December.
2. Can you explain the concept of the COOK stores and what sort of people you generally attract into your shop?
The concept of Cook is to provide ‘Remarkable food for your freezer’. It is all made in our kitchen in Sittingbourne in Kent, where there are over 40 chefs who prepare everything by hand, using the same ingredients and techniques you would at home so everything tastes homemade.
Our meat comes from the UK and Ireland but we use Barbary Ducks from France which are certified. Our Fish comes from approved fishing grounds and we only use suppliers that support the activities of the Marine Stewardship Council and are committed to sustainable fishing. We can trace all our meat right back to the farm and animal it came from. We work actively with farmers, suppliers and other industry organisations.
Our customers are of all ages, from single people to families, young to old.
3. What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love my job because of the concept of Cook and what it offers. Its a great company to work for and we were voted the 44th best company to work for in 2015. The customers are all wonderful, so friendly and we have built a really good relationship with them. My staff are truly amazing, there are only 4 of us but we work so well together, their service to all our customers is outstanding and I couldn’t do it with out them.
4. What do you feel makes the food by COOK stand out from frozen ready meals available at the supermarkets?
Cook stands out from other frozen ready meals because it is cooked by hand to give that homemade taste, we only use ingredients you would at home. Once cooked it is frozen at -35 which locks in all the flavour and nutrients so there is no nasty additives or preservatives. You cook our meals from frozen in the oven or the microwave.
We sell a wide varieties of meals from 1 portions to 6 portions, Indian, Oriental, Party foods, Side dishes, Puddings, Kids and Baby foods. We also sell Low Calorie, Gluten Free and Dairy Free meals and puddings. We can cater for anyone who has an allergy. We also sell a good selection of Vegetarian and Vegan meals too (which are so nice).
We offer free tasters to all our customers throughout the day, we find this is a brilliant way of showing off the quality of our food whilst also giving customers more ideas of what to purchase. So if your feeling a bit peckish then pop down and see us – there is no obligation to buy anything, just come and give us a try and have a sample of our tasty food.
5. Do you have a loyal customer base?
Yes we defiantly have a very loyal customer base but we also see a lot of new faces all the time which is great. Most new customers come in saying their friend has told them about us and that they must come and try our food, so word of mouth recommendations are priceless to us.
6. If you were a customer in your own shop, what would you be putting in your shopping basket?
Everything! I have so many favourite dishes but the one at the moment is the Indonesian Vegetable Curry, it is so yummy and full of flavour.
7. What’s your guiltiest food pleasure?
Chocolate, it is my down fall but I love it so much. When we do the Belgian Chocolate Brownie as a taster I have to stop myself from eating it all!
8. Aside from running your business, what are some personal hobbies or local activities that you enjoy?
I have two dogs so I love going out for long walks with them, meeting up with their doggy mates and being outside (especially when the weather is sunny). I enjoy socialising with my family and friends.
9. Are there any exciting plans for your business in the future?
Well this is my first year at being a new franchisee so I want to concentrate on promoting us more and growing the business further but you never know I may think about opening another store in the future.
10. What advice would you give to someone who is dreaming of opening their own small business in Dorchester?
If you have the passion and the drive to succeed then go for it but make sure you do your homework. Location is key for a business to do well.