Shaper: Edward Perry

Show aired on 3rd December 2016

Transcript

Edward Perry

Edward Perry is the co-founder of COOK, a frozen food company where every dish is prepared by hand from store cupboard ingredients so they look and taste homemade. The oldest of four children, after leaving school he started working for his parents, who ran a small bakery and café.

He teamed up with his favourite customer, Dale Penfold, a chef, and with a small bank loan they started making and selling frozen food from a shop called Cakes & Casseroles in 2007. After a name change to COOK and a few very difficult years – nearly losing their precious independence during the recession – the company has grown to have a turnover of £50m with a large kitchen in Kent, a kitchen making puddings in Somerset, and a network of over 80 shops nationwide. Their meals win multiple Great Taste Awards every year and have been praised by the press and customers alike.

COOK remains a family-owned business with a strong ethical drive to be ‘a force for good in society’. They are a certified B Corporation, accredited by the Living Wage Foundation, and are currently 28th in the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For list.

Edward lives with his wife Sophie and four children in Kent.

Follow COOK on Twitter @theCOOKkitchen.

Listen live at 9am Saturday.

“I knew you could make nice food for the freezer and so that was what I wanted to do – create my mother’s home cooking on a big scale”

“You’ve just got to keep going, that is the single most important quality that I saw in my parents and what they did in their business…it’s just persevere, persevere, persevere.”

“I remember that being a real low point, realising…that actually figuring out how to make this food taste nice was going to be phenomenally difficult.”

“It is almost poetic in how awful it was: at our point of maximum borrowing Lehman Brothers went down and overnight sales dropped by about 10% in every single one of our shops.”

“We checked the bank balance once or twice a day…so in terms of the discipline of getting through it was really, really, really good cash management.”

“There are always arguments. There are always stresses because everyone feels very passionately about things.”

“As an owner of a business…one has to consider the environmental impact of ones actions, your responsibilities to employees, responsibilities to suppliers, responsibilities to the communities within which you operate.”

“We need to keep on growing to provide opportunities for people within the business, 10% to 15% is pretty smart growth rate and I think we can do that.”

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