Frozen ready meals retailer Cook has opened round the corner from me. Which given my reliance on food which comes from plastic containers, could turn out to be a Godsend.
Dalton Philips started work at Morrisons today. He has a reputation as being a well-liked people person from his time with Loblaws in Canada, and he certainly seems like a friendly chap, with one of those Mid-Atlantic accents that comes from having worked successfully all over the world.
I expect he will keep his head down for the first few months and spend some time going around the stores and getting to know the business. He’s in the nice position that the business is continuing to trade very well, as shown by today’s Kantar market share figures, and I’m sure he won’t be in any rush to make bold moves into online, non-food or anything else.
I stumbled across a new addition to the West Dulwich retail scene on Saturday, discovering that a branch of Cook has opened round the corner from my house. Cook is one of those retailers which we were writing about loads about five years ago when I started here - in fact they won our Emerging Retailer of the Year award in 2004 - but then went off the scene a bit, so it was a pleasant surprise to see that they’re expanding.
Cook sells frozen ready meals, but is a million miles away from Iceland, Farmfoods and Heron, the only other retailers I can think of which specialise in frozen foods these days. The store - which I think looks like it’s a franchise - is staffed with lovely friendly Dulwich types and decorated like a farmhouse kitchen, except instead of an aga its rather incongruously full of cabinet freezers last seen in Dulwich in the days of the Sainsbury’s Freezer Centre in Lordship Lane (anyone remember those?).
The food all sounds very appetising, and it’s ‘made in Kent by real English people’ credentials are worked hard in wall-displays, and on the plastic containers the product all comes in. They all say they’re made by Brian X or Ken Y, reassuring names for the Dulwich shopper. The problem is that it’s very hard to make frozen ready meals in plastic containers look nice. They’re always going to look rather functional and a bit like hospital food or meals on wheel, even if the quality is actually great.
I hope it works though, if purely for selfish reasons as my itinerant lifestyle and inability to cook makes ready meals a godsend to me.
One big advantage for the franchisee is that you don’t get any of the wastage you would if the food was fresh, and certainly the prices don’t compare too badly with Finest ready meals at the Tesco Express across the road, and I’m sure they’re not made by Brian or Ken’s fair hands. Anyway I bought a couple of the products so I’ll report back when I finally get round to eating them, although judging by the other contents of my freezer, that will probably be about October.
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