Mrs. Fields

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Mrs. Fields' Original Cookies, Inc.
Type Private
Founded Palo Alto, California (August 16, 1977 (1977-08-16))
Founder(s) Debbi Fields
Headquarters Broomfield, Colorado, United States
Number of locations 390 locations in the United States (2012)[1]
Area served Mainly North America
Key people Neal Courtney, CEO
Products Baked goods
Owner(s) Z Capital and Carlyle Group
Employees 4,000
Website mrsfields.com

Mrs. Fields Famous Brands is a franchisor in the snack food industry, with Mrs. Fields and TCBY as its core brands. Through its franchisees’ retail stores, it is one of the largest retailers of freshly baked, on-premises specialty cookies and brownies in the United States[2] and the largest retailer of soft-serve frozen yogurt with live active cultures in the country.[2] In addition, it operates a gifts and branded retail business, entering into many licensing arrangements. Its franchise systems includes over 300 franchised and licensed locations throughout the United States and in 22 other countries. The company also offers retail grocery products and a gifting catalog under the name of Mrs. Fields Gifts. Mrs. Fields is headquartered in Broomfield, Colorado.[3]

History[edit]

Mrs. Fields Cookies was founded by Debbi Fields (b. 1956, Oakland, California) in the late 1970s. She and her husband, Randall K. Fields, opened their first of many stores in 1977 in Palo Alto, California, selling homemade-style cookies which quickly grew in popularity. In 1982, Mrs. Fields moved their headquarters to Park City, Utah.[4] In the early 1990s, the company was sold to an investment firm.

During the 1990s, the company acquired several other brands including Original Cookie Company, Great American Cookies, Pretzel Time, Pretzelmaker, Hot Sam Pretzel Bakery and TCBY.

In 2007, Mrs. Fields celebrated its 30th anniversary with a national search for a new cookie. Chandler, Arizona resident Carrie Lawrence's recipe for "Oatmeal Peanut Butter Scotchies" was chosen over 700 other recipe entries as Mrs. Fields' 30th Anniversary Cookie in August 2007.

In May 2012, Mrs. Fields announced it was moving its headquarters to the Denver area in Colorado. According to CEO Tim Casey, the move was due to the fact that "Many casual/quick service franchise companies were launched from and are based in Denver, making it an ideal environment..."[5]

Mrs. Fields cookie wrapper obverse.

The chain letter recipe[edit]

In the late 80's a recipe circulated through the mail that claimed to contain the secret recipe for Mrs. Fields chocolate chip cookies along with a story that the recipe was purchased from one of the cookie stores for $250. However the recipe was a fake and the story that accompanied it was adapted from an urban legend attached to recipes for cookies from Neiman Marcus and Waldorf-Astoria for red velvet cake.[6]

In response to the chain letter, a sign attributed to Debbi Fields was posted in Mrs. Fields stores:

Mrs. Fields recipe has never been sold. There is a rumor circulating that the Mrs. Fields Cookie recipe was sold to a woman at a cost of $250. A chocolate-chip cookie recipe was attached to the story. I would like to tell all my customers that this story is not true, this is not my recipe and I have not sold the recipe to anyone. Mrs. Fields recipe is a delicious trade secret.

The author of the chain letter remains a mystery.

Financial status[edit]

Since early 2006, Mrs. Fields has seen several rounds of layoffs as a result of restructuring efforts. Loss of personnel was due in part to the sale of three of the company's brands. In August 2007, Nexcen Brands, Inc. purchased the Pretzel Time and Pretzelmaker concepts from Mrs. Fields Famous Brands. Great American Cookies was then sold to Nexcen in February 2008.[7]

June 5, 2008 - Mrs. Fields announced plans to begin efforts to restructure their debt by offering a deal to current bondholders. The plan also included the option of filing a prepackaged bankruptcy in the event enough noteholders didn't agree to the offer.[8]

July 10, 2008 - Stephen Russo resigns as CEO. On July 15, 2008, the Board of Managers of the Company appointed Michael R. Ward and John Lauck as Interim Co-Chief Executive Officers to fill the role vacated by Stephen Russo.[9]

August 15, 2008 - Mrs. Fields Famous Brands announced plans to implement a prepackaged Plan of Reorganization and file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.[10]

August 24, 2008 - Mrs. Fields Famous Brands officially files for Chapter 11 protection.[11]

August 26, 2008 - Mrs. Fields Famous Brands releases a statement[2] announcing that the bankruptcy court has approved all first day motions. These motions grant approval to:

  • Continue to pay employee salaries, wages, and benefit programs;
  • Pay vendors in the normal course of business for goods and services provided to the Company;
  • Maintain uninterrupted delivery of products and services to the Company’s franchisees and customers.

The statement also mentions that the company expects to emerge from Chapter 11 within 45 days.

October 27, 2008 - Mrs. Fields emerged from bankruptcy.[12]

April 2010 - Mrs. Fields hires Tim Casey as CEO

December 2011 - Mrs. Fields narrowly avoids its second bankruptcy in three years by agreeing to cede control of the company to its creditors, Z Capital and Carlyle.[13][14]

July 2013 - Mrs. Fields promotes Neil Courtney to CEO from COO.[15]

References[edit]

External links[edit]