Coming into COOK’s 20th year, it’s fair to say that the business is in great shape, with strong sales momentum and yet another fantastic result in the Best Companies To Work For survey, at number 31. Even more exciting are the opportunities lying ahead of us and the fact we have undoubtedly the strongest team in COOK’s history.
In terms of the financial figures, we successfully delivered our budgeted profit for the year of £4.5m, continuing our established trend of steady annual growth. This was up 13.5% on the previous year, with sales overall growing by 12.2% to £64m gross.
There’s a summary of the highlights – and the learnings – on the second page of the document below. There’s no doubt it was a game of two halves, with the first six months presenting considerable challenges before we turned the tables in the second half of the year, thanks, in no small part to yet another remarkable Christmas.
Of course, the financial measures aren’t the only ones that matter, nor even the most important. The fact that we maintained our top, three-star rating as one of the country’s top 100 Best Companies To Work For is something in which we should all take immense pride, although the slight slippage in our ranking and score has highlighted that we must not take our remarkable culture for granted.
As Nick Candler, our chairman, is fond of saying: as a business COOK has been through the toughest part of the journey – surviving for two decades, including a severe recession. What’s more, we have done so without compromising our values and with a genuine sense of purpose bubbling up inside.
Yet, as I reflect on COOK’s story so far, it could be characterised as: two steps forward and one step back, as self-inflicted wounds have often slowed our progress. Mistakes are an inevitable part of being human, being ambitious and running a business. But I have never been more confident that, with the broad leadership team we have in place, we can keep mistakes to a minimum and through our collective skill and growing experience make ever bigger strides forward.
We are presented with a wonderful opportunity to accelerate growth and flourish. These are exciting times - thank you all for making it possible.