The History of Mrs. Fields Cookies

Mrs fields cookies storefront.

When Debbi Fields founded Mrs. Fields Cookies, most of her friends, family members, and acquaintances thought she would fail. Ironically, however, they loved her cookies. They complimented her constantly, saying she was talented at baking cookies and pastries.

They just didn’t think she would succeed in turning her passion and skill into a business.

On one occasion, Debbi Fields narrated how she would go to banks to seek a loan to start the business.

She carried a business plan and her cookies as samples. The bank associates ate all her cookies while reviewing her business plan but later rejected her loan proposal.

A Look Into Mrs. Fields Cookies

Fields remained determined that one day she would find a banker who not only enjoyed her cookies but would also say yes.

In 1977, she finally found Ed Sullivan, a banker at the Bank of America. Sullivan and his bank invested enough for Fields to open her first store in Palo Alto.

Founders

Like any other business, Mrs. Fields Cookies started from a desire. Debbie Fields desired to make a name for herself. She aspired to be more than a housewife.

She didn’t want to live under her husband’s shadow or become a tag-along anymore. She yearned to define success for herself, not through other people’s lenses.

It’s not that Debbi resented her husband. Her mom had raised her to be a good wife and mother.

Her father taught her and her siblings that true wealth came from family, friends, and doing what you love. She loved baking for her husband and his acquaintances, so she chose to start a business based on this passion and skill.

In August 1977, Debbi Fields and her husband, Randy Fields, established Mrs. Fields Cookies and opened their first store at Liddicoat’s Market in Palo Alto, California.

They used funds acquired through a business loan from the Bank of America, thanks to Ed Sullivan, a banker at one of the branches.

By noon of the first day, no customer had purchased even one cookie. Frustrated by the lack of sales, Debbi Fields decided to give out samples to passersby on the street.

Most of them liked the cookie samples and returned to buy cookies. Debbi realized that giving free samples was a great marketing strategy to get customers to her stores. Free sampling remained the foundation of her marketing strategy.

Expansion

Mrs. Fields Cookies opened its second store at Pier 39 shopping area in San Francisco. Debbi Fields initially rejected the idea of opening a second outlet but changed her mind after much convincing from Warren Simmons, the owner of the Pier 39 shopping area, and a few employees.

Customers would line up at the new store to buy Mrs. Field’s cookies. This outlet was so successful that it motivated Debbi to open other branches within the United States.

Mrs. Fields Cookies opened a third store in 1979 and a fourth in 1980 at the Ala Moana Shopping Centre in Honolulu.

By this time, Debbi was putting in a lot of hours trying to keep up with operations. She eventually decided to seek the help of her key employees.

By 1982, Mrs. Fields Cookies had 14 outlets within the United States. Revenue in that same year amounted to roughly $30 million. The company opened 50 other stores in the following two years and more than 500 by 1987.

Franchising

Debbi Fields was initially against franchising because she wanted to maintain control over her business and didn’t want the company’s brand and culture diluted. She put more focus on quality than profits.

It wasn’t until 1990 that Debbi agreed to franchise her company to the Marriott Corporation. Marriot was allowed to sell popular Mrs. Fields products and open 60 stores in airports, travel plazas, and hotels for 5% of its gross sales.

By 1990, Mrs. Fields also operated international outlets in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, and the United Kingdom.

The firm added more stores in Mexico City and Thailand through licensing agreements.

Losing Control

Massive expansion in the 1990s cost Mrs. Fields Cookies to fall into financial trouble.

The company amassed huge debts that led to Debbi losing control of her company to four of its biggest lenders. Mrs. Fields Cookies was also delisted from the London Stock Exchange as the new owners restructured the company.

Debbi Fields maintained a minority interest in the company, with almost 80% stake going to the Prudential Group to cover $94 million in debt.

She, however, remained chairman of the board. Debbi also received a salary cut from $600,000 to $450,000 and was replaced as CEO and president of Mrs. Fields Cookies.

By 1995, Mrs. Fields Cookies had 617 stores worldwide, with 5% outside the United States. Debbi also announced that the company was granting franchising agreements to open another 100 stores outside the United States.

The company planned to franchise all international outlets.

In 1998, Mrs. Fields Cookies moved its headquarters to a 30,000-square-foot location in Salt Lake City. By this time, Debbi and Randy Fields had filed for divorce.

The company, however, kept growing under the leadership of Larry A. Hodges and ownership of Capricorn Investors. Mrs. Fields Cookies acquired Pretzelmaker, a Denver-based company with 229 outlets.

The company also purchased several other brands, including Great American Cookies, Pretzel Time, Hot Sam Pretzel Bakery, Original Cookie Company, and TCBY.

Mrs. Fields Cookies again got into financial trouble in 2007 because of outstanding debt. The company sold Pretzel Time, Pretzelmaker, and Great American Cookies to Nexcen Brands Inc.

The owners also laid off many employees, restructured their debt then filed for Chapter 11 protection. In 2011, Mrs. Fields Cookies relinquished control to its biggest creditors, Carlyle and Z Capital Partners. Z Capital Partners is now the sole owner of Mrs. Fields Cookies.

Interesting Facts

In the mid-1980s, a rumor circulated that Mrs. Fields sold its Chocolate chip cookies recipe to a woman for $250.

The woman claimed she was informed the recipe cost $2.50, not $250. She was so upset that she sent many unsettling letters.

The rumor spread to the point it hurt Mrs. Fields’ brand. Debbi responded by placing notices in all her stores that her company wasn’t in the business of selling recipes.

It took a while for the rumor to die off since most people believed the naysayers over information from the company’s top management.

Timeline.Mrs. Fields Cookies Company Timeline

1977

Debbi and Randy Fields establish Mrs. Fields Cookies in Palo Alto.

1979

Mrs. Fields Cookies opens its second store at Pier 39 shopping area, San Francisco.

1980

Mrs. Fields opens a fourth store in Honolulu.

1983

Mrs. Fields Cookies moves its headquarters to Park City.

1987

The company acquires La Petite Boulangerie, a French bakery with 119 stores.

1988

Mrs. Fields Cookies closes 85 stores after suffering a $19 million loss.

1990

Mrs. Fields Cookies agrees to franchise to the Marriot Corporation.

1992

The company opens more international stores in Thailand and Mexico City.

1993

Mrs. Fields Cookies gets acquired by its lenders due to outstanding debts.

1998

Mrs. Fields’ ownership goes to Capricorn Investors. The company also purchases Pretzelmaker and other brands.

2007

Mrs. Fields Cookies sells most of its acquired brands to Nextcen Brands Inc.

2011

Mrs. Fields gets acquired by Z Capital Partners and Carlyle due to outstanding debt.

2013

Z Capital Partners becomes the sole owner of Mrs. Fields Cookies.

More About Mrs. Fields Cookies

Setbacks

Managing setbacks successfully is the key to a strong management team.

It’s not about avoiding setbacks but how they are handled. Setbacks offer growth opportunities.

See the link below for more information on Mrs. Fields Cookies’ setbacks.

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Successes

I find it interesting to study the success of companies because you can learn from the strategy that leads to their success.

Sometimes it’s one thing that leads to success, and other times it’s various factors.

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Lessons Learned

Learning from others’ experiences can be beneficial if you apply them to similar situations or if it’s something you’re interested in. See the link below to explore this topic.

Search Results – Lessons learned from Mrs. Fields Cookies.

Executive Team

The company’s management team can give you an overview of how well the company performs.

Management changes affect stock prices, and you can count on changes. Whenever the company has a new leader, you can expect changes and hope for positive ones.

If you want to see the information available for Mrs/ Fields Cookies

management team.

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Working at Mrs. Fields Cookies

You can understand how well the company is managed by reading reviews related to working for a company.

Naturally, you have to use your best judgment, some reviews may be from employees who like to complain, and others may be from employees who aren’t happy anywhere they work.

Still, you can gain an idea from the majority of reviews.

Search Results – Working at Mrs. Fields Cookies.

Complaints and Lawsuits

Many legitimate lawsuits and complaints indicate a problem in the company, which will usually lead back to the management team.

Other issues with large companies can be disputes over intellectual property, such as trademarks, patents, and copyrights.

See the link below for the latest and archived information about Mrs. Fields Cookies.

Search Results – Complaints and Lawsuits related to Mrs. Fields Cookies.

Financials

If you’re interested in the financials of Mrs. Fields Cookies, you can view the latest search results to give you an overview of the company’s financial state.

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Company Assessment

A company assessment allows you to look into the performance of a corporation.

Many people specialize in studying company performance, and by looking at their findings, you’ll get an overview of the company.

If you are interested in the overall performance of Mrs. Fields Cookies and where it is headed, you can use the link below to browse the information available.

Search Results – Mrs. Fields Cookies’ company assessment.

News

The news is one way to stay up to date with current information.

You can see what the media is covering regarding Mrs. Field’s cookies using Google News.

See Google’s News search results related to Mrs. Fields Cookies.

Videos

You can view the Videos available on YouTube related to Mrs. Fields Cookies, including tours of where cookies are made, news stories, and interviews with Debbi Fields.

See the most recent videos related to Mrs. Fields Cookies.