Got a hankerin' for crinkle-cut watermelons, perfectly wedged apples, or artfully zested lemons? The Pampered Chef, a direct seller, provides more than 500 gourmet kitchen gadgets, cookware, cookbooks, and foodstuffs. It boasts some 60,000 independent sales reps who hawk their wares through in-home kitchen parties (à la Tupperware) throughout North America, Germany, and the UK. It holds 1 million parties in the US each year. Representatives demonstrate product use and care and share recipes. As an incentive (à la Mary Kay), reps can earn jewelry and trips. Founded in 1980 by home economist and educator Doris Christopher, The Pampered Chef is owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway.
Based in Illinois, Pampered Chef operates its business across the US and has an extended reach into Canada, the UK, Germany, and Mexico.
Sales and Marketing
One of the industry's leading direct sellers, Pampered Chef offers eight consultant career levels, from Pampered Chef Consultant to National Executive Director. The company's 60,000 independent sales reps sell its kitchen gadgets through 1 million in-home Cooking Shows annually. The company has had about 12 million customers.
Pampered Chef got a new CEO in late 2014 and the founder rejoined the company as chairman. Parent company Berkshire Hathway is seeking to reverse the declining revenues of recent years. Pampered Chef posted lower sales and earnings in 2014.
As the largest of its kind in the US, Pampered Chef has worked to expand its operations abroad while also diversifying its revenue stream. To this end, it entered Mexico in 2009. During the past decade, the company has expanded into the UK and Germany. This move was one reason that attracted Berkshire Hathaway to purchase Pampered Chef in 2002. Since its inception, the company has served some 12 million customers. While Pampered Chef does have an online presence, it has lost sales to other online retailers.
Up to 90% of the company's kitchen products are exclusive to The Pampered Chef. The kitchen gadget company also focuses on demonstration parties as part of a bride's wedding registry to generate sales revenue. The Pampered Chef's staff of home economists, food scientists, dieticians, chefs, and product developers tests and develops more than 400 recipes each year.
The number of Pampered Chef parties has slowed in recent years due to the downturn in the economy, as potential customers and regular devotees have had less disposable income to boost the number of their kitchen gadgets. In the meantime, Berkshire Hathaway's other businesses have helped to offset slowed sales at Pampered Chef. The direct retailer is hoping to attract those who are between jobs in anticipation of luring them into full-time sales representatives until the economy bounces back for good.