Co-founded by brothers Guy Pope-Mayell and Michael Mayell, iconic New Zealand brand Cookie Time is celebrating 40 years since its inception.
Coming from an entrepreneurial family, Pope-Mayell and his brother shared a desire to start a business. In the 1980s, cookies were famous in the US and not a thing in New Zealand. Seeing this as an opportunity, Cookie Time was launched in 1983. It focused on homestyle cookies made with natural ingredients and generous chunks of chocolate with a softer, chewy texture to create a real moment of leisurely indulgence.
Pope-Mayell advised that emerging businesses should prioritise having a valid point of difference, innovate, and act quickly for longevity and success.
He emphasised the importance of knowing your customers and building trusted relationships built on quality and value delivered honestly.
Take full advantage of the additional support and attention an emerging business gets from the industry. Everyone loves a great start-up story,
"Take full advantage of the additional support and attention an emerging business gets from the industry. Everyone loves a great start-up story," said Pope-Mayell.
Cookie Time's longstanding position in the fmcg industry has meant that the business has weathered and adapted to what Pope-Mayell dubs an ever-changing industry. Both pre-post pandemic, businesses have been challenged to remain agile and responsive. However, following the pandemic, consumer value has become even more crucial, followed by provenance, with made-in New Zealand, New Zealand-owned, and family businesses offering a connection and layer of trust consumers seek more often.
"Make sure your initiative has sufficient margin to withstand the start-up phase and growth pressures. Listen to those around you, but at the end of the day, back yourself and your vision 100 percent."
Throughout its years as a business, Cookie Time has learned that people and culture are at the heart of the business. A business becomes unstoppable when people work towards a common goal and are committed to making a difference. Pope-Mayell said that Cookie Time lives by its values: Big Hearts, Open Minds, and Positive Actions.
Cookie Time has invested in its culture, empowering its team to be their best.
"As an entrepreneurial business, some of our most important lessons have come from having the courage to fail fast – acting quickly to bring an idea to market but pivoting quickly and moving on if it doesn't succeed."
This is something that Pope-Mayell said was critical for any business. Being able to pivot, move on and take on the learning and seeking continuous improvement leads to longevity and success. Also important is learning to own if something goes wrong and using it as an opportunity to learn.
Reimagining the business and brands over the last five years has been a proud achievement for Cookie Time, which has included 'cracking the code' of the retail and eCommerce channels, mastering social media and setting up for further export growth. "We feel very proud to be in our 41st year of business and remain family-owned, New Zealand and loved, with all the opportunities in the world ahead."
2023 has been a stellar year for Cookie Time, from its 40th birthday through to the Cookie Time Cookie Sandwiches launch, setting a new benchmark for the most successful novelty ice cream category launch ever, and two Trusted Brands Awards (Cookie Time and OSM).
"We're in major growth mode and already exporting to more than 20 markets."
Cookie Time Limited has acquired Mrs Higgins, a significant milestone to support its growth strategy further. This provides a second bakery site and will open more food service, frozen product, export and gluten-free opportunities.
Read more below about Cookie Time's 40-year milestone starting on page 64.