How the pandemic has impacted the pet industry

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Corinne Walton from Dog Tired Beds shares her experience of how the pandemic has affected her business.

Corinne Walton from Dog Tired Beds shares her experience of how the pandemic has affected her business.

Hello my name is Corinne Walton and I am the director of Dog Tired Pet Beds Ltd. Having had a professional background in greyhounds and recently moved into the world of show whippets, the hound group has been the backbone of my company. Having been brought up with dogs and working with greyhounds for over 30yrs has allowed me to bring together all the practical experiences to help customers with other breeds to find suitable products for nutrition, breeding, health and welfare and kennel supplies.

My company manufactures bespoke pet beds and coats, accessories as well as being stockists for leading brands such as SofaDog Wear, DG Dog gear, Fish4Dogs, Essential Dog Food, Animal Health Products, natural treats, and much more. We are more of a specialised retailer than the traditional pet retailer where many of the products we have are not readily available under one roof. All products have to meet our high standards and vetted before they are placed on our shelves.

Prior to the April 2020 lockdown, our biggest selling platform were dog shows at club level, local charity shows (we are a supporter of Saving Yorkshire’s Dogs), dog festivals, agriculture shows and fairs. On occasions customers and their dogs visit the unit in Richmond to be measured or to discuss requirements for other products and projects, we have sadly lost all these platforms.

The covid pandemic has brought many challenges for the pet industry. The way we have had to evolve to accommodate the new lockdown rules within our working environment and the boosting of online sales has been significant. This can be from social distancing to sanitising, to the furlough of staff and working with masks and a reduction in footfall for non-essentials. The impact has been huge especially for those companies that only go to shows or don’t have an e-commerce presence like my company. We have all had to think outside the box to ensure our businesses survive.

As a manufacturer the pandemic has not only affected my company by the drop in footfall to my unit or the lack of shows but has had a major bearing on companies that supply raw materials for my products. Many of these raw materials come to British suppliers and wholesalers from the EU or worldwide. Due to the ongoing pandemic and global lockdowns many raw material supplies have been delayed by months and also products produced outside of Britain have been delayed because of the pandemic affecting the workforce further along the supply chain.

I was fortunate in that I had already got a lot of raw materials in stock before the pandemic hit. I like to make sure I am able to keep stock levels going throughout the show season so wasn’t so affected in certain ways like others but unlucky in other ways because I’m a small limited company and to furlough would be difficult as a manufacturer. I am lucky in that I have a loyal customer following that has been built up over many years. These customers have wanted to support small local businesses and many knew that without supporting local businesses they would disappear. They have been consistently buying throughout, not necessarily bulk panic buying but making a point of coming to me for all their supplies. If anything I have seen an increase in sales within the unit via telephone or because of social media updates on Facebook.

Dog Tired Pet Beds are delighted to have a K9 Nation Marketplace presence hoping to concentrate on and develop this part of the business as an additional platform. K9 Nation allows small businesses to continue to be relevant in what is a highly competitive industry. The products we manufacture sell better when customers see them in the flesh so shows will always be our biggest platform however we may be prepared to diversify in future into the realms of e-commerce. There are many customers who still prefer to go out to their local pet retailer or championship show for that more personal one to one experience.

As a manufacturer and retailer who is hopefully coming out the other side of what has tested every UK business I am grateful to have support from many directions but the manufacturing and retail world has been faced with a double whammy in that we are now feeling the effects of Brexit. Yet again we expect to be facing further turmoil with our supply chains.

“The covid pandemic has brought many challenges for the pet industry. The way we have had to evolve to accommodate the new lockdown rules within our working environment and the boosting of online sales has been significant.”

On the whole, I’m hopeful that we are seeing light at the end of a very long tunnel. I envisage that my company will continue to plan ahead, bring in new products and get the stock up to the levels where they need to be, and look forward to seeing many of my customers, friends and their pawsome charges. It is important to buy British to support our local economy but we cannot do this solely on our own as a lot of businesses rely on raw materials from further afield so moving forward I hope that we can support as many businesses along the supply chain as we can.

You can find Dog Tired Pet Beds on the K9 Nation Marketplace. If you haven’t downloaded the free app yet then click below!

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