COOK makes quick decisions about production and the relationship between sales and stock


with apps from Informance, built using Qlik’s advanced analytics.

COOK was founded in 1997 by Edward Perry and chef Dale Penfold, with the idea of making frozen prepared meals using the same techniques and ingredients as a good home cook. From a single shop in Farnham, COOK now has over 90 shops, plus hundreds of branded freezers in like-minded independent retailers, its own distribution network and a growing delivery service from its website. The food is still all prepared by hand in its kitchens in Kent and Somerset. As both a retailer andmanufacturer, keeping a close eye on the relationship between sales and stock is crucial to COOK’s success as stock that is selling well needs to be scheduled for production, while surplus stock needs discounting.

Historically, COOK relied on spreadsheets, so making these decisions could take days. Working with business intelligence (BI) expert Informance and with its analysis, recommendation and guidance, COOK invested in QlikView as its BI platform. QlikView provides operations visibility across COOK’s entire business using data stored in its enterprise resource planning system and enables them to make decisions and take action as needed. As a starting point, ahead of Christmas and with the help of Informance, COOK delivered a Christmas Stock Tracker app to see how its Christmas ranges were selling against targets and its daily stock levels with stock location, storage, movement and store ordering. The app was also used by executive management to provide an overview of the company’s operations.

Jeff Turner, head of financial planning & analysis for COOK, says:

“As all of the dishes we sell are prepared by hand in our Kitchen, it’s vital that we’re able to effectively manage our stock. QlikView has provided us with the ability to make incredibly timely decisions about production during one of our key trading periods. It has been a massive leap for our company and we can see no shortage of opportunities for the future.”

In addition and with the success of the Christmas stock tracker app, COOK expanded the use of QlikView across the business with a number of manufacturing-specific QlikView dashboards to support its long-term IT strategy of allowing more time for analysis and less time on collating reports.

As Qlik expanded its advanced analytics platform with Qlik Sense for user-level analytics to support intuitive questions and more data insight, Informance supported COOK in adding Qlik Sense to its overall Qlik estate.

James Butler, management accountant for COOK says:

“Qlik Sense is largely what COOK is working with now, in parallel to QlikView and NPrinting, which are still used for automated and standard sales and stock reports delivered in daily and weekly emails. What we wanted to do was move more towards giving access to the users and improving workflow. For example, we now have a workflow app in Qlik Sense.”

James continues:

“We create and deliver the apps ourselves. However, the value in working with Informance is with its help for financial reporting with Qlik Sense. Informance focused on the back-end requirements for profit & loss (P&L) reporting with an extension available through Qlik Branch to help customise and enhance the P&L. Qlik Sense apps have been delivered to our heads of department, who used to spend too much of their time collating data, putting it into emails and sending it to marketing and HR. With Qlik Sense, they can interact and interrogate the data on-demand and use this to meet with colleagues to analyse the detail. In summary, we are really handing this over to the user now and letting them work with the app and the data.”

Qlik Sense is used in the financial, marketing, and HR teams and by the technical department in areas such as product testing and quality assurance. All departments review their P&L with their own relative data.

COOK also has an interactive app for promotions that run throughout each year to help compare weeks, see the uplift and look at trends before and after each promotion - like 15% off for vegetarian dishes or 3-for-2 purchases. Consolidated data from despatch and PoS sales is analysed with projected sales, and delivered to the users for planning and reference against their P&L.

James Butler says:

“With our interactive app, Informance helped align stock with other areas of focus, with guidance on how the data models needed to work. Again, this has been a real benefit in supporting our development and use of Qlik.”

James continues:

“As a financial team we didn’t have any previous data modelling skills, so the support and guidance from Informance for the back-end work has been invaluable. It has helped the team to up-skill and self-skill moving forward, and now we can pretty much design an app as needed and well within a week. As the business evolves and maintains its innovations, we are now looking more at areas we can make use of Qlik, such as customer basket analysis and making sure we are ahead of the game in overall customer experience at COOK and Informance is providing some great insight to support this process”

James concludes:

“We are also looking at multi-device use of Qlik Sense where it is needed, such as for area managers out on the road. In addition, and in the longer term we are also looking at mapping with product provision and sales in concessions and independent retailers like farm shops, which stock our food. Informance works with us as partners and is flexible in supporting our evolving business operations and presence in today’s highly-competitive and global retail market.”