By Esther Goh,
Cookie Time celebrates its 30th birthday this year and hopes to mark the milestone with the opening of the first Cookie Time cookie bars overseas.
The iconic Kiwi brand opened a cookie bar in Queenstown about three years ago and is ready to take the model international.
"It was always set up with a view to international franchising and as a way of Cookie Time going global," explains founder and director Michael Mayell.
There's been interest from Japan, Hong Kong, and Malaysia, and Mayell is confident that it's simply a matter of time.
"Kids love the cookie bar and so do the 18 to 30-year-olds. It's got a very wide demographic."
Mayell says the Queenstown cookie bar broke even in the first two years, turning over about $500,000, and is now a viable franchise option, playing in the $1 million space.
"Any city with a million people or more is a potential market for a cookie bar. Once we get a cookie bar into a city and establish our brand, we can potentially branch out into wrapped cookies into outlets around it. The bar acts as an anchor, a way of getting into the market."
And while you probably shouldn't get your hopes up just yet, Cookie Time may open up a couple more cookie bars in New Zealand too, with Auckland, Wellington and Rotorua being potential contenders.
Meanwhile, Mayell says Cookie Time has just secured a patent for its One Square Meal product and is close to getting patents in Australia, UK and the US. Sanitarium is licensed to produce One Square Meal in Australia, where it has been stocked in Coles and Woolworths for a year.
"It's a huge success story for us and we're now looking to duplicate that in other markets," he says. "We've really just got to keep introducing more people to the product."
He says branching out with different product lines has been key to the company's success. With Cookie Time, Bumper Bars and One Square Meal, the business is more stable – a three-legged stool rather than a one-legged stool.
To mark its 30th birthday this week, Mayell and his brother Guy (an equal shareholder in the company) will be rolling up their sleeves to re-enact their original hands-on baking style, complete with a bacon slicer to cut up the chocolate, ice cream scoops to lay out the cookies and paint scrapers to get them off the trays – those cookies will be sold at 1983 prices, or 50 cents.
The company is also giving away 30,000 cookies, a 30-year supply of cookies for one serious fan and $30,000 to be split between a school and a charity, all voted for through Facebook.