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In 1997, brothers Edward and Dale Perry came up with an idea that was to break the mould in food retailing. It led to the creation of ‘COOK’, which for the first time brought premium meals to freezer cabinets across the country and to an eager British public.

Today, high quality foods sold in 57 stores and concessions in select supermarkets have made COOK a recognised and highly respected brand on the high street. Success is built on a simple ethos; providing foods that customers would be proud to have cooked themselves but with the convenience of a ready meal.

COOK is using the menu of options offered by Experian Micromarketer Online to bring customers the foods they love to eat, to the places they love to shop — and with an expanding home delivery business— even to their doorsteps.

COOK has rapidly become synonymous with premium quality — it’s food that’s aimed at a very specific customer who expects much more than a TV dinner when they reach into their freezer. The siting of new COOK stores, both wholly owned and franchised, needs very careful consideration if they are to access enough of these discerning diners to ensure profitability.

Until recently, location decisions were largely based on the ‘COOK look’ — with a natural inclination towards upmarket high streets and affluent market towns. However as their attitude to food, COOK isn’t a company that’s prepared to accept a solution that’s ‘good enough’ when it’s possible to have the best.

COOK realised that a site that appeared to be perfect sometimes failed to deliver the results they had hoped for. Without accurate geographic and demographic analysis of the areas they were moving into, the company couldn’t identify the towns, and indeed the specific sites within these towns, that would maximise returns.

In 2010, COOK turned to Experian to give them the insight they were looking for — and Experian delivered Micromarketer Online. A web based suite of tools, using Experian’s Mosaic UK consumer classification solution, which breaks down the UK population into 15 groups and 67 types.

Micromarketer Online allows COOK to upload customer information from its mailing lists and other sources to visualise demographic and segmentation data. It brings COOK three critical insights to help them optimise the siting of new stores. Firstly, it helps them to understand, precisely, the lifestyles and purchasing habits of the customers most likely to buy from them. With this information in hand, COOK can analyse the local environment that any new store will find itself in, including market size, value and opportunities for growth.

And finally, Micromarketer identifies the catchment area of a new store, visualising it, for example, through a map of the location showing a drive time radius.

These insights provide a range of advantages. For example, COOK can model customer behaviours, better forecast sales, optimise its supply chain, target and tailor marketing campaigns and ensure that new and existing stores aren’t competing for the same customers.

The move to Experian is already having a significant impact. Using Mosaic UK, COOK has identified 21 out of the 67 possible customer types — including ‘Foot Loose Managers’, ‘Urban Cool’ and ‘Business Class’— as those are most likely to engage with COOK. They’ve been named the ‘COOK 21’ and are used to benchmark all siting decisions.

One potential location for a new franchise looked, on the face of it, to be a certain winner: affluent residents that fitted the customer profile and an upmarket high street that seemed to be crying out for COOK. However looking at the COOK 21 in the local area, it was clear that the town would be a much harder proposition, with a small catchment area, overlap with several other COOK stores and a population that spent most of its money outside the town.

For COOK, the great advantage is that, as well as telling them where they shouldn’t open, it also tells them where they should. Its Harpenden store was one of the first chosen using data from Micromarketer Online. In less than two years, it has grown into one of the company’s top three performing outlets.

Micromarketer Online is also helping COOK to expand into markets that aren’t viable for the high street business model. It’s been used to profile 40 areas that can’t support a store, but will support a home delivery service. Home delivery currently makes 6 to 7 per cent of their business, and the company is confident it can use Experian data to help grow this further.

“Before Experian, we based our store locations on educated guesses, whilst today we can make decisions based on hard data and scientific criteria,” said Andy Bryce. “With Experian, we can site our stores confident in the knowledge that there is a ready and willing customer base, ensuring we and our franchisees are ideally placed for maximum profitability and success.”

“Experian data is sharpening our location planning decisions and helping to forge a strong and mutually rewarding bond of trust with our franchisees.”

Andy Bryce, Sales Development Manager, COOK

“Experian’s data bring real joy to COOK and its franchisees. We can avoid expensive commitments in area not optimised for the COOK model and also offer our Franchisees immediate validation of any proposed new store, or suggest more profitable locations”

Andy Bryce, Sales Development Manager, COOK

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