Cookie Time plans big overseas expansion

Last updated 05:00 07/02/2013

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Cookie Time, the Christchurch firm famed for its chocolate chip biscuits, is embarking on an overseas expansion plan.

The company is celebrating its 30th anniversary this week with a 1983-style baking session of its first product, the chocolate chunk cookie.

Founder Michael Mayell was 21 when he delivered unwrapped cookies to 70 Christchurch dairies with the help of his mum on February 7, 1983. Soon after, his brother Guy Pope-Mayell joined the enterprise.

"I started Cookie Time with a huge handmade cookie, a glass cookie jar, $5000 in the bank, an old Mini Clubman van and bucketloads of youthful enthusiasm," Mayell said.

"It's been an amazing journey."

These days Cookie Time generates an annual turnover of $30 million and employs 80 staff, plus 44 franchisees who deliver the cookies.

It also selects 77 students in a fiercely contested process to sell its well-known Christmas cookies every year. Last year they sold a quarter of million buckets.

Cookie Time's product range has also expanded over time, with more than 20 different types of cookies, a range of muesli bars and a nutritional bar called "One Square Meal".

But the company is hoping for greater things from the nutritional food category, and is working to develop cereals and beverages under the One Square Meal brand.

Talks are under way with international food manufacturers and ground-breaking nutritional food patents are pending in Australia and the US.

The One Square Meal brand was already licensed in Australia to Sanitarium "and everyone is thrilled with it", Mayell said.

"Sanitarium is very happy with the way it is going, so we want to duplicate that in other countries."

Another key plank in the plan to take Cookie Time global is the franchise of its "cookie bar", which the company opened in Queenstown three years ago.

The bar, which sells cookies and milk, milkshakes and icecream, has attracted interest from potential franchise owners in Japan, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

"These are very successful businesspeople in Asia who saw it and went: ‘This would go so well in Asia'."

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