pbwnews April 2020

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Volume 22 Issue 4

April 2020

At your service!

MEANWHILE, IN OTHER NEWS… Something’s cooking… From kitchen table to global success, Lily’s Kitchen acquired by pet food giant. Page 3 Coronavirus special report All the updates on the pandemic including new guidelines for pet businesses, how retailers are cop- ing, show and event update, and the wholesaler threatened with closure by police. Pages 4-14 Burgess backs bunnies Pet care company launches online rabbit welfare community – will you join the gang? Page 18 Bird business flying high Bucking the trend of virus-based bad news, company invests in major factory expansion. Page 30 We can get through this! Aquatics trade round-up including a rallying call from a specialist retailer. Page 38-39 Legacy for the future How one retailer used a family bequest to help fulfil her lifelong dream. Page 32-34 Win a bit of lockdown luxury While away your evening at home with our wordsearch – and win a treats hamper. Page 42 Behind the counter Find out how Newshound, our retailer of 30 years standing, is coping with life under the covid- 19 regime. Page 43

RETAILERS PRAISED FOR PROVIDING ‘A VITAL LIFELINE’ KEEP SMILING THROUGH: Staff at the PetPlace Abergele store in Wales show how it’s done

get through this national crisis together…So whether you’re working in a shop, large or small, or in a distribution centre or supply chain supporting retailers operating online, I would like to convey my heartfelt and personal thanks for everything that you are doing to support our joint nation- al effort. “Each and every one of you is making a valuable contribution to the economy and the commu- nities you serve, keeping our supply chains up and running to contribute to the UK’s efforts to defeat coronavirus.” In his letter, the Secretary of State says he is encouraged by the way the sector has responded and is confident… continued on page 4 >>

SHOP AND distribution workers are making a valuable contribu- tion to the economy and the communities they serve, keep- ing the supply chains up and running to contribute to the UK’s efforts to defeat coronavirus. This was the gist of a letter to the UK’s retailers and wholesalers – including the pet industry, which has been desig- nated an essential service – from Alok Sharma, Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. “I know that these are challenging and uncertain times, in particular for retail businesses and staff across the country,” he writes. “I want to pay tribute to all of

you who continue to work tirelessly in the retail sector to ensure that the public can continue to access the goods they need in these challenging times. “The retail sector is a vital life- line for those self-isolating and for all of us in adhering to the Government’s social distancing guidelines. A REAL DIFFERENCE “The goods that you supply make a real difference to our ability to

pbw news

editors comment

Petfood giant acquires Lily’s Kitchen

Unprecedented times have brought an unprecedented response from the pet trade. Wewill continue to thrive through this

LILY’S KITCHEN has been bought by global pet food business Nestlé Purina. The acquisition was from L Catterton and financial terms have not been disclosed. The company will continue to operate out of its offices in London as a standalone entity led by Lily’s Kitchen’s CEO, David Milner and the existing management team. Lily’s Kitchen’s employees, both junior and senior, who own a stake in the company, will also be able to share the success. Established 12 years ago by Henrietta Morrison, Lily’s Kitchen has grown to become an internationally recognised £85m brand offering ‘natural’ food for dogs and cats across 6,000 stores in 30 countries. Last year the company was awarded The Royal Warrant from HRH The Prince of Wales. RAPID GROWTH Lily’s Kitchen has experienced rapid growth abroad and in the last year saw a 30% increase in revenue. Henrietta said: “I created Lily’s Kitchen in the belief our pets deserved better, more natural food that would make them healthier. I was inspired to do this by my own dog, Lily, who was ill and is happily now nearly 17 years old. “I’m proud we have been able to bring the business this far and by working with Purina we will accelerate Lily’s Kitchen, becoming truly global so that pet owners worldwide can have access to really healthy, natural pet food. “I have always believed passionately in

Theweeks theworld changed… AS I WRITE this – only my second column as editor of pbw news – the world around me appears to have shifted almost overnight. Doubtless many of you will feel the same. When we were putting together the March issue, the pet industry and the rest of the UK were not yet in lockdown and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic was only just being felt. Things are very different now. There are transformations everywhere, but a major difference for us is that this April issue is digital. This is a first in the magazine’s nearly 70-year history. The lockdown and health and safety measures brought in to tackle the covid-19 crisis also impacted the publishing, printing and distribution industries and required us to make many changes. At pbw news we are a small business, just like many of you, working remotely and ensuring we keep staff, customers and contacts safe. Our overarching focus, however, remains: to bring you the issues affecting the pet trade and to inform and support you throughout this unprecedented time, be that digitally or in print. The country is in for at least another period of lockdown, with steps to then be taken to come out of it. Uncertainty, to an extent, is inevitable. What anyone reading our front page will be very well aware of, however, is that the pet industry can and will cope with whatever is to come. Within just a few days – and in some cases hours – of lockdown being announced and the resulting confusion over the trade’s status, retailers, manufacturers and distributers were all stepping up. Yes, there were issues to be overcome, stressed customers stockpiling and shortages in some areas, but the industry pulled together to support each other and their local communities, identifying the vulnerable and sharing information. Rest assured that we will continue to be there with you. Please let us know what you think of this digital issue and, if you have a happy story to tell or an issue to raise, please let us know. I can be contacted as always at editor@pbwnews.com

growing the business by doing the right thing by our people, our consumers and the planet. We have created a brand that people and their pets really love. I’m so proud of what we have achieved and know the brand will be taken good care of in its next chapter and beyond.” “We are greatly humbled to have been acknowledged and backed by L Catterton and now Nestlé Purina,” said David Milner. “From the ingredients we use in our recipes, to the relationships we have built with our partners, retailers and consumers, our Company remains committed to this award-winning formula for our loyal customers around the world. Our vision, pur- pose and values will always be at the heart of who we are and what we do.” Calum Macrae, regional director, northern region, Nestlé Purina said: “Lily’s Kitchen has done a brilliant and unique job of creat- ing a wonderful brand with its ethical approach to business. We are very excited to help bring the brand to the next level and to continue to make a positive impact.” FISH4DOGS has launched a trio of ‘healthy’ treats with the help of three ‘doodle’ dogs. Morsels are a new grain-free, fish-based dog treat. As part of the Support Plus+ range, they come in a fish-shaped biscuit in three flavours – Salmon, White Fish and Mackerel. The product launch was supported by three dogs: cockerpoo Dash, seven-month-old puppy Digby and cavapoo Rodney. Fish4Dogs brings out treats trio Lily’s Kitchen founder HenriettaMorrison - and Lily

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Apr i l 2020

3

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

Retailers and distributors thanked for ‘enormous efforts’

IN BRIEF

Shop licences may be extended

instance, has established a Lifeline Fund offering extended credit terms to loyal retailers. In addition, it is spearheading a campaign for ‘kindness’ and innovative solutions to be extended to every- one during the current crisis. Sales and marketing director Heather McManus said: “This isn’t the time to capitalise on any- one else’s misfortune. So many small businesses are under threat and many people are afraid for their lives but still feeling that they have to expose themselves to risk in order to make a living. AN AMAZING JOB “If we share helpful ideas or ways to respond, in the greater scheme of things, that’s the right thing to do.” PATS organiser Gordon Thomas, of Impact Exhibitions & Events, was another to sing the praises of the industry. He said: “Retailers and suppliers are doing an amazing job servicing the nation’s pet owners during this difficult time, and it will be great to put on an event like PATS Telford where they can all meet up at the end of September. “We’re continuing to take stand bookings as well as helping our exhibitors keep in touch with retailers. PATS Telford 2020 will be an event that reflects everything that’s good about this remarkable industry.”

<< from page 1… that it will continue to meet these challenges. He concludes: “Thank you again to everyone operating in the UK retail sector. You are making a hugely valuable and critical contri- bution to the resilience of our nation and I commend you for the enormous efforts you are individu- ally undertaking to support the UK economy.” PULLING TOGETHER The Business Secretary’s comments have been echoed by many within the pet industry and borne out by the sometimes-heroic actions of those keeping business- es, owners and their pets healthy and happy during this unprecedented period. From independent retailers to large wholesalers and manufactur- ers, all around the country there has been evidence of the sector pulling together in adversity. These include pet shop owners who have been delivering essential food items to isolating customers, such as Sammie Hunt of Redpaw Pet Supplies, in Devon, who quickly devised an ‘essentials’ basket of food and items like toilet roll for customers to buy alongside their pet food. Sammie said: “I am not making any profit on these. Some of my customers just cannot get out and I felt that if I could lend a hand in any other way then I should do so.”

Others, such as Jane Lafferty, of Grampian Pet Services, in Fraser- burgh, praised suppliers such as Nutriment, Paleo Ridge and Burns Raw for continuing to get through to them in remote Scotland. Most of all she wanted to praise her dia- betic husband Danny for the very long days he was enduring: “Some days he is covering more than 250 miles to guarantee all the customers’pets are taken care of,” she said. Pet chain the Farm and Pet Place, in NorthWales, has, like many others, put its plans for the year on hold and changed its way of working to ensure it continues to supply customers and their pets, safely and effectively. The company, which has five shops and an HQ, was about to celebrate its 50th anniversary when the pandemic struck. ADAPT AND THRIVE Managing director Sion Pritchard said: “Like most businesses we have had to adapt and look at new ways of working. It’s been all hands on deck and will continue to be for weeks to come, but we will meet that challenge head-on. “The response from regular cus- tomers and the public has been astounding, and we would like to thank people for all of their support.” Wholesalers have also been stepping up. Vital Pet Group, for

PET SHOPS whose licence is due for renewal may be granted an extension in the current cri- sis, the Pet Industry Federation says. PIF’s PrimaryAuthority part- ner, the Corporation of London, has received a response from Defra about the extension of licences for businesses operat- ing under theAnimalActivities Licensing regulations. Defra says local authorities are under ‘considerable pres- sure’ regarding licences and some may as a result wish to extend licences for three months to reduce the need for inspection and the risks involved while the outbreak continues. The regulations allow local authorities to vary licences with the consent in writing (includ- ing e-mail) of the licence holder or where the licence holder makes an application. “Local authorities may wish to consider using this facility for extending licences for three months where this is deemed necessary,” PIF says. “If your licence is coming up for renewal, please contact your local authority regarding the possibility of an extension.”

NEW CUSTOMERS BOOST FEED SALES CSJ SPECIALIST canine foods has seen hundreds of new customers come on board during the coronavirus crisis.

The company says in spite of the increase it is continuing to

fulfil orders and support customers old and new.

Ceri Rundle, CSJ’s owner and founder, said: “As dog owners ourselves we know how

important it is that people have peace of mind that their pets are well catered for and we are committed during these difficult times to ensuring that we continue to give full support. “Storage of our food, herbs and treats is easy and they have a long shelf-life.

Ceri Rundle’s working collie, Bet

Providing they are stored correctly in a cool dry place they adhere to the legal requirement that levels of vitamins, minerals etc still offer the same level at the end of shelf-life.”

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Apr i l 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

Shout-out to suppliers as deliveries make it through PET SHOPS across the country are singing the praises of some wholesalers and suppliers as they continue to make vital deliveries in the face of the coronavirus lockdown. Taking to the pbw news Facebook page to express their gratitude, shop-owners and suppliers alike have been posting photos of their deliveries in a bid to reassure pet owners that essential pet products are still reaching the shops. Support for companies working extra hard to reach retailers was kicked off by Shanklin Pet Stores on the Isle of Wight with a lovely sunny photo of stock, piled up outside the store. Others joining in included Lynette Gittings of the Ponerosa Bird and Pet Centre near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire who of-

IN BRIEF

PETS CORNER has re-opened its shops at 15 garden centres in the UK after reaching agreements with the landlords. Garden centres were told to close when the country went into lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, forcing Pets Corner to shut up shop on these sites. Pets Corner CEODean Rich- mond said at the time: “Sadly, despite being allowed to trade as an essential retailer, some of our stores have had to close in our gar- den centre locations. We are trying to get them reopened and are in discussions with our landlords regarding this.” All Pets Corner stores now open are offering NHS staff 15% off in-store on a number of leading brands. The company said on its website: “As we live through these challenging times, we know it’s important to give back to the heroes who are working around the clock to keep us all safe; our NHS.As a huge thank you, we are offering 15% off some of our most treasured brands in store, as a helping paw to all of the NHS workers. “While everyone in the NHS is busy supporting us, we know that their furry friends are equally sup- porting themwith their uncondi- tional love (and kisses). We hope that this will help them in some way during these tough times.” ANEWREPORT into the outlook for the US pet trade post coronavirus is now available from market research store ResearchAndMarkets.com. The report ‘US Pet Market Outlook 2020-21 – Impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic’ evaluates current trends and future directions for marketing and retailing, along with consumer patterns across the industry, including pet food, vet services and non-medical pet services (grooming, boarding, training and pet insurance). US pet market trends highlighted in new report Pets Corner re-opens shops in garden centres

Supplies at Bestpet Bristol

fered a ‘big thumbs up’ to wholesalers including Trust Pet Products, Albert James and Al- bion for reaching the shop. My Pet HQ in Morpeth, Northumberland said it was no longer doing click and collect but took to its own Facebook page to let customers know of new stock arriving, including Poppy’s Picnic and Nutriment: “We’ll keep every- one updated with all our stock and when deliveries are coming in… hope everyone is staying home and we’ll see you soon,” it said. Jane Lafferty of Grampian Pet Services in Fraserburgh said the all-natural dog and cat food company she runs with her hus- band Danny was reliant on their suppliers getting through - such as Nutriment, Paleo Ridge and Burns Raw - and that to date they had all managed to deliver in spite of the additional issues of being in remote Scotland. “But my real hero is my husband Danny,” she said. “He is diabetic and our only delivery driver as it’s just the two of us running this business. Some days he is covering over 250 miles just to guarantee all the customers’ pets are well taken care of.” John Paul Stephenson of JP's Pet Supplies in Sunderland, Tyne & Wear also praised his suppliers, including Bestpets, Vital and Pedigree, but recounted a tricky day that will probably sound familiar to many retailers. EXTRA DEMAND He said: “It was a helluva day. After opening nice and early, to deal with the extra demand due t o the coronavirus, we had disappointing news. “We had some big deliveries

stock is all over the place. I had to redo it and the system let me choose a Friday delivery date, which is fine so long as I know what’s going on!” PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE Trust Pet Products announced that it had plenty of stock being delivered all around the country… with photos to prove it. Meanwhile Andrew at Petcetera on the pbw news Forum echoed the views of many when he wrote: “I would like to thank all of the companies and sales reps who have emailed to offer their support. Thanks to all of our suppliers and their staff who are trying hard to get products to us. Some companies are actively helping, such as Hagen, who are reducing the minimum order to £100. Thank you to all the staff at Best Pets Newcastle and all the delivery drivers who are still turning up.”

booked in, but two of them rang to cancel as they couldn't keep up with extra demand that they were experiencing. So, to try to get hold of some stock, I spent five hours going back and forwards to the cash-and-carry. Mission Accomplished! “Finally sat down at 3pm for a cup of tea, only to be interrupted by a phone call, saying that the deliveries could now come after all. Suffice to say we now have a very full shop!” VAN HIRE While managing partner at Petcayr By T & G Hutchison Pet Supplies, Catherine Hutchison, resorted to sending a hired van fromAyr to Preston to collect from GA after her delivery date was changed and she decided to take matters into her own hands. She said: “It’s very hard to tell where we are at the moment. I cancelled this week’s order as my

TREAT MANUFACTURER CREATES CHARITY CHUNKS IN TIME OF CRISIS A FAMILY-RUN pet treat manufacturer is donating treats to animal rescue charities as part of its zero- waste policy.

The Innocent Pet Care Company wants to ensure that no product goes to waste during the coronavirus crisis and is using any product left over from the production process to create treats especially for rescue centres. Founder Chloe Heaton explained “We use any excess ingredients to create our Charity Chunks – they are a grain-free, mixed meat healthy treat that we donate in bulk to animal charities and dog rescues across the country.” More than 150kg of the specially made dog treats were donated in one week to help struggling rescues. Chloe said: “All three of our dogs have come from rescue centres, so we’ve been able to see first-hand just how donations like ours can help and are relied upon to help feed the dogs in their care.”

Apr i l 2020

5

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

New guidance for pet businesses

IN BRIEF

Detailed safety advice offered to retailers THE GOVERNMENT has issued specific advice for businesses that continue to operate during the coronavirus crisis. Tailored information is for shops running a pick-up or delivery service, retailers and out- door traders, among others. Advice for those offering delivery and collections includes: n No orders to be taken in person on the premises. You should only take orders online or by telephone. n Advice on social distancing measures applies to everyone and steps should be taken to avoid crowding and minimise opportu- nities for the virus to spread. n Where customers are collecting items, they should have staggered collection times. n Where queuing is taking place, you should use queue management systems to maintain a safe distance. For deliveries: n No goods or food should be physically handed over by deliv- ery staff to the customer. There should instead be a set drop-off point agreed in advance. n After ringing the doorbell, the driver should maintain a safe distance from the door and oversee the delivery of the goods. The goods should not be left unattended. n Introduce a way for customers to be able to notify your business that they are in self-isolation or are unwell in advance of the delivery, in which case these guidelines should be very strictly followed. n To minimise the risk that a cus- tomer does not answer the door, steps, such as setting an approxi- mate delivery time and gaining a contact number, should be taken. Where shops need to be staffed, the advice now includes installa- tion of plexiglass barriers at all points of regular interaction, where feasible. For further information visit the Government coronavirus advice website: https://www.gov.uk/ guidance/social-distancing-in-the- workplace-during-coronavirus- covid-19-sector-guidance

Pet service handover protocol to use when handing over dogs between a business and client

offering advice to them about their pet’s coat is the safest outcome for all concerned. “Government regulations make it clear that an owner taking a pet by vehicle to be groomed is unlikely to be essential travel, however there may be welfare grounds on which grooming may be necessary, particularly if the lockdown persists.” Mobile groomers may continue to operate providing that they can maintain social distancing and follow the handover protocol. Groomers whose business relies on pets coming to themCAN con- tinue to work if they collect them and as long as they can disinfect their vehicle between collections and then only pets from one household should be collected at one time. Only one dog may be groomed at a time and the dog should have left the premises, with disinfection of the premises before the next one is allowed to enter. In all cases pay- ment should be by card or BACS. PET SHOPS Pet shops have not been required to close and can continue to pro- vide pet food and other essential supplies. However, a journey sole- ly to purchase a pet is not consid- ered essential and is not allowed. If pet shops sell pets (other than kittens and puppies, which is now banned), selling livestock already in stock or coming through the supply chain may continue. u To read the full guidance document click here

keeps working and in the case of pet businesses to help safeguard the welfare of the nation’s pets. “Pet businesses play a key role in this and should operate within the strict advice on social distanc- ing and hygiene,” the CFSG says. Members of the public are requested to leave their house only for very limited purposes, which means pet-owners will NOT be able to travel to access the services outlined in the document, but service providers CAN travel to them door to door while still meet- ing the social distancing and hygiene requirements. The CFSG has produced a han- dover protocol between people walking friends’ and neighbours’ dogs, which should also be used when handing over dogs between a business and client. BOARDERS, WALKERS AND DAY CARE The document covers protocols for a variety of pet businesses, including boarding kennels & catteries, home-boarders, doggy day care, dog walkers, groomers, and dog and cat breeders. Guid- ance for pet rehoming and rescue centres is to be issued shortly. GROOMERS Grooming services present a chal- lenge, the CFSG says, as there is a risk that the virus may be carried on the dog’s coat. “Pets from households with coronavirus present higher risk given the nature of the service. In many cases, groomers may there- fore consider that maintaining contact with clients remotely and

NEWGUIDANCE for pet businesses operating during the coronavirus crisis has been published. The document, entitled ‘Covid-19 – Advice for Animal Related Businesses and Local Authorities’ , is, of course, subject to change depending on Government advice. But it aims to offer ‘clear advice’ to pet businesses on how they can comply with the new rules on social distancing, hygiene and travel. The guidance covers a wide range of businesses dealing directly with pets, including pet shops selling livestock. It was put together by the Caine & Feline Sector Group, which includes the Pet Industry Federa- tion and the Pet FoodManufactur- ersAssociation to ‘assist animal businesses and breeders to operate in a safe manner to protect the health of their staff and clients’. Nothing in the document is intended to be anything other than guidance for use in ‘the current extraordinary circumstances’, the CFSG says, and it aims to balance the potentially competing interests of public health and the need for the economy and business to keep working. CARRY ON Government is keen to see businesses continue to operate unless they are on the list of explicitly banned businesses and venues – and it has not required ANYother businesses to close. Indeed, the Group says, it is important for business to carry on, not least to ensure the economy

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Apr i l 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

SHOWTIME? HOW NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE SHOWS ARE TACKLING THE CRISIS

Interzoo delayed ‘beyond 2020’

INTERZOO, THE leading international trade fair for pet supplies, has announced that it is postponing its 2020 show until at least next year or beyond. The show was set to be held in Nuremberg, Germany on May 19-22, with a British delegation organised by trade association PetQuip due to attend. Organisers WZF said the unprecedented step had been taken because of current ‘exceptional circumstances’. WZF said: “Due to the

WZF is working to find a new date for the postponed fair

current worldwide consequences of covid-19, Interzoo can no longer be realized in 2020. The organisers are instead working on a new time-slot beyond 2020. “Interzoo attracts leading companies of the pet supplies industry from around the world. Against the background of the current situation involving health hazards, travelling restrictions and constraints of movement, large-scale economic damage and other adverse factors we consider it

impossible to still offer a trade show in 2020 which lives up to the expectation the industry at large associates with a global premier event such as the Interzoo“, said Norbert Holthenrich, President of the German Pet Trade and Industry Association, ZZF, the sponsor of Interzoo. “As we are speaking, the majority of companies are finding themselves in crisis mode and certainly not geared to plan and prepare the presentation of their products and services at a trade fair.”

PETINDEX has been postponed until next year – but a ‘virtual’ pet trade show will take its place this summer. PIF said today that it was ‘with regret’ that it was cancelling the event ‘in the face of the continued global spread of covid-19 and the current UK lockdown’. It was due to take place later this month and was to have included the British Dog Grooming Championship and the PIF Awards. The 2021 Petindex date will be April 18-19 at the Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes. In place of this year’s Petindex, PIF is launching a ‘virtual trade show’ – Virtual Petindex – which is being planned for June 14-15, 2020. And the PIF Awards have been rescheduled to take place later this year during the Glee/PawExpo trade show on Wednesday, September 16. INDUSTRY AWARDS The Virtual Petindex event will combine semi- nars and trade stands that visitors can visit using their laptop or mobile phone. It will be fully interactive and give visitors the opportu- nity to engage with trade stands, as if at a face-to-face show, but without the need or cost of travel and accommodation. PIF will be notifying delegates, speakers, exhibitors and other service-providers directly with more information and the next steps to participate in this new venture Further details about all these events will appear over the next few days on www.petindexshow.com PETINDEX REPLACED BY ‘VIRTUAL’ TRADE SHOW

Exhibitors continue signing up for PATS

MORE COMPANIES – including a pet prod- uct supplier from China – are signing up to exhibit at PATS Telford in the autumn. Chinese company Gambol Pet Group Co confirmed its attendance at the show, with spokesperson Fangying Wei telling PATS organisers: “Covid-19 is controlled in China, and our work is being carried out normally.” Gambol is one of four exhibitors – the others being Zoflora, Lah-De-Dah-Dog and Woof & Brew – to have booked stand space at PATS Telford since the end of March. “It’s a very difficult period for everyone but the fact that companies are committing to showcasing their new products at PATS Telford is a sign that the pet industry is deter- mined to get through this crisis,” said show organiser Gordon Thomas, of Impact Exhibi- tions and Events. Zoflora, a brand with almost 100 years of home hygiene experience, is new to PATS. BOOKED “We’re delighted to be exhibiting at this year's event, where we’ll be showcasing our

innovative ‘Fresh Home’ range. It’s been specially developed to be better toler- ated by a pet’s sense of smell.

“The brand aims to connect with pet retailers to educate them about Zoflora’s Fresh Home range, which contains patented malodour technology and has been tested against pet-specific odours, including vomit, urine, excrement and ‘wet dog’ smell.” Another exhibitor to book its stand this week was Lah-De-Dah-Dog, which is returning to Telford after launching its range of fleece dog coats at PATS two years ago. Gambol, Zoflora, Lah-De-Dah-Dog and Woof & Brew have joined more than 130 other brands that have booked stand space for PATS Telford, which is on Sunday, September 27, and Monday, September 28, 2020.

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Apr i l 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

Pets at Home to beat financial forecasts after demand spikes

IN BRIEF

Pet food business lends a helping paw

BARKING Heads has partnered with Blue Cross to help support vulnerable pet-owners affected by the current covid-19 crisis. In collaboration with The Trussell Trust, which supports a nationwide network of food banks, Blue Cross and Barking Heads have distributed 9,000 dog and cat food pouches to pet-owners in need. Many of these, living in more rural or isolated geographical areas, are self-isolating because of age demographic or pre-existing health conditions. The emergency food deliveries are part of Barking Heads’ Paws For Thought charity initiative which works with several pet-related charities, in- cluding DOTS (Dogs On The Street), a volunteer run, not- for-profit charity dedicated to the welfare of dogs belonging to the UK’s homeless community.

Home balance sheet was ‘resilient’, the FY2020 Trading Up- date added that the company had strong relationships with banking partners but said it would remain vigilant around funding, cash preservation and capital in view of the ‘prevail- ing backdrop’ of market condi- tions. Group CEO Peter Pritchard said: “While the financial year has undoubtedly ended strongly for Pets at Home during this unprece- dented time, the period ahead is uncertain for us all, and the com- pany will not be immune to these challenges that we collectively face. “As ever, in difficult times con- sumers turn to trusted brands and advice, and that is why we are working tirelessly to ensure that we continue to provide essential

PETS AT HOME has seen in-store and online sales increase since the start of the covid-19 pandemic and now expects annual profits to beat expectations. In a trading update, the UK’s largest pet retail group said it had experienced an ‘exceptional’ level of demand due to the coronavirus outbreak. This was due to existing customers increasing their average basket size, by pulling forward purchases, as well as new cus- tomers buying pet products and re- quiring animal healthcare services. The company said its previous investment in omnichannel capac- ity, new customer acquisition channels and subscription services had allowed it to meet the sudden increased demand. It added that disruption to the Far East supply chain had stablilised fairly quickly, with minimal impact on stock levels. Maintaining that the Pets at

products and healthcare services for the UK’s pets.” The retailer said it has removed all but essential travel for staff and had adopted alternative working arrangements, procedures to pro- tect the health and safety of staff and customers and was offering advice and support to staff on maintaining good health and well- being. Nearly all of its First Opinion veterinary practices, and all of its Specialist Referral centres have re- mained open to provide ‘urgent and emergency pet health care,’ in line with government guidance, but it warned that it anticipated reduced customer revenues.

Apr i l 2020

9

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

Online pet food prices on the rise again? THE PRICE of pet food online rose more than any other item in a

IN BRIEF

Free BIRA membership for crisis-hit small businesses SMALLBUSINESSES affected by the covid-19 crisis can access a free membership package from the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) – parent company to the Pet Product Retail- ersAssociation. Independent retailers who sign up for the Coronavirus Member- ship Package can gain complimen- tary access to Bira member bene- fits for three months, in return for a nominal donation of £1, £5 or £10 to the Rainy Day Trust. The deal, available until Tues- day, June 30, 2020 will support the independent retail community through the unprecedented coron- avirus pandemic. Bira's dedicated coronavirus hub is updated every day, to help members and the wider independ- ent retail community.

Nicole Paley of the PFMAsaid: “The supermarkets have been clear that they have been reducing the number of promotions on offer in store (and therefore online) to try to suppress demand and ease the workload on staff so that they can prioritise store hours to restocking vital categories.” She added that the PFMA’s own analyst had taken a look at price data and found that the simple act of removing such promotions could account for the increase noted in the ONS report. She said: “We are not suggesting there is not profiteer- ing in the industry as a whole but we very much doubt that it is tak- ing place in the major retailers, it could be happening via third party online sellers but it is hard to read too much in to this at this point and some further exploration would be needed.”

Other items saw a reduction, for example a packet of rice online fell by 11.7%. In the first week of the survey pet food showed the second high- est increase across the two weeks at 3.1%. However the report authors did warn that due to the number of retailers sampled, a single retailer could ‘contribute to substantial movement at the item level.’ HITTING BACK The Pet FoodManufacturers’ Association (PFMA) also hit back at the report, questioning some of the ONS methodology. It said it was unclear whether the ‘basket’ the ONS had taken its figures from included the likes of Amazon, Ebay and third-party sellers.And it pointed out that it was retailers who set prices, not the pet food manufacturers.

coronavirus ‘high demand’ basket at the end of March, a report has revealed. Anewweekly report from the Office for National Statistics looks at the fluctuations in prices of essential items online, such as tinned food, paracetamol, toilet roll and pet food. Reporting began in midMarch. It covers three separate weeks, March 16-22 (week 1), March 23- 29 (week 2) andMarch 30-April 5 (week 3). The report ‘Coronavirus, the UK economy and Society’ revealed the increase in the price of goods between weeks 2 and weeks 3. Pet food showed the highest price rise of any other item in the basket of goods, rising 6.2%, with nappies at 5.8%.

LET’S FOCUS ON KINDNESS, SAYS WHOLESALER

VITAL PET Group says its focus this month is on kindness and reaching out a helping hand throughout the supply chain. The wholesaler has already made a start with its Lifeline Fund, which offers extended credit terms to retailers as they cope with the business implications of covid-19. Vital says the move is in response to the loyalty shown by its customers over the years and is its way to returning that loyalty. Throughout April, the company will be shining a light on the range of eco-friendly products, local sourcing and companies with a track record of corporate responsibility. Vital recently produced its first Top 10 list of eco products that it says are ‘must-haves’ for retailers. They range from products that reduce wastage to those that give back to communities or don’t have a negative impact on the environment.

Shining a light on eco-friendly products

THE VITAL ECO TOP 10

1. Edgard Cooper – biodegradable packaging 2. Be:Loved – eco grooming, no plastics 3. Mayfield woodbased litter – 100% natural 4. Elkwood Antlers – natural fall products 5. Simply Fido – organic cotton dog toys 6. Beeztees Fresh Market – ensuring all animal parts are used – no wastage 7. Fibrecycle – Recycled paper cat litter & bedding 8. Almo HFC – Profits go to sustainability projects 9. Beco – biodegradable poo bags 10. Enviro-works – environmentally friendly cleaning products

Part of the Be:Loved grooming range

Heather McManus, sales and marketing director at Vital, says many have remarked upon how quickly wildlife habitats have been restored as more people stay indoors and pollution is reduced during this pandemic. FURTHER GROWTH She notes that for many people this will ‘really bring home the impact of our day-to-day activity on the planet’ and she anticipates further growth in this category of products.

The company will also be sharing ideas on its social platforms and encouraging retailers to do the same to help the trade get through this diffi- cult time. Heather says everyone needs to support each other. “This isn’t the time to capitalise on anyone else’s misfortune,” she said. “So many small businesses are under threat and many people are afraid for their lives but still feeling that they have to expose themselves to risk in order to make a living. “If we share helpful ideas or ways

to respond, in the greater scheme of things, that’s the right thing to do.” Vital is also extending an invita- tion to brands that would like to col- laborate to fill portfolio gaps or that need structured support for future product launches. DIFFICULT TIME Heather says that it’s also a very difficult time for suppliers. “We’re very much about partnering with brands. We have

some innovative solutions for those who are having issues with trans- port, distribution or other issues, as well as playing an active role in supporting themwith future products that work for the trade.” Retailers can follow Vital on its social media platforms for the lat- est updates and are encouraged to share their own stories and ideas. Retailers can find out how to access the Lifeline Fund here https://www.vitalpets.co.uk/ news-2.

10

Apr i l 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

VAT deferral – what if you can’t get to work?

Ask the expert… ADVICE ON HOW TO MANAGE YOUR BUSINESS DURING THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS

which is effectively HMRC’s guess at their VAT bill.” But Alison warns that it was inadvisable to accept a central assessment if it puts your VAT liability lower than it would have been if you had filled out your return as she says this is potentially fraud! “The least damaging solution for businesses who simply can’t access the office would be to submit an estimated VAT return, which is an established practice and already permitted in certain circumstances. Using this method requires prior authorisation from HMRC and, unfortunately, pre- liminary enquiries suggest it is currently resistant to this solution. “If this stance is confirmed in the next few days and weeks it would be a shame, and until we have clarification we can’t recommend an estimated VAT return as a fail-safe solution. “Businesses also need to remember to cancel their direct debit. Once again, the fact the deferral is automatic has prompted people to believe there’s no need to cancel their regular payments. This is not the case and businesses will still end up paying if they forget to cancel.”

MANY BUSINESSES are confused about whether they still need to complete their VAT return, according to Alison Horner, indirect tax partner at MHA MacIntyre Hudson. “The VAT deferral scheme is automatic but this fact has lulled some businesses into thinking they don’t need to complete a VAT return,” she said. “It’s easy to think this is no longer necessary, especially as the national shutdown means many businesses can’t physically get to their offices, or have furloughed the relevant staff. “While VAT returns may be dig- ital, businesses still often need to look through paper invoices to get the information they need. Busi- nesses may assume government understands this and don’t expect a VAT return given they are advis- ing people to work from home. FRAUD WARNING “However, the deferral is only automatic providing the VAT return is still submitted – other- wise HMRC doesn’t know how much VAT to defer. If companies don’t submit their return, two weeks after its due date, they will be given a central assessment,

EXPERIENCED PET retailer Scott Hendry was one of those at the helm of the Just For Pets turnaround in 2018. Having opened his first small pet shop in 1992, Scott has worked in the business for more than 28 years and is an award-winning retailer and acclaimed industry expert. His award-winning stores include Natural World Pets, in Leicestershire and Northampton, and Pingle’s Pet Store, in Leicester. His stores are consistently No.1 for Symply/Canagan and he is a past retailer panel member of the former Pet Care Trust. Scott is now branching out into offering retail consultancy and has the following advice to offer those in the pet trade during these extraordinary times.

CORONAVIRUS (covid-19) is proving to be a challenge for business like no other I have experienced in my lifetime. Although hard, we need to main- tain a positive attitude, lead by ex- ample and ask ourselves ‘How can we turn this around?’ Shoppers are faced with empty supermarket shelves and delayed delivery times from the online sector. We in the pet trade are in a ‘fortu- nate’ position in that we can still open our doors and trade. It’s times like these that the com- munity comes together, people shop local and we need to be there for them, offering help, support and great service. I’m sure you all went through a period of ‘over trading’ due to the panic and uncertainty of possible store closures and the availability of goods. TIME TO ADAPT That seems to be over and sales have slowed during the lockdown. But how do we adapt our business as we just don’t know what the next few weeks are going to look like? A sensible approach is required. Review opening times and staffing levels. Run your store as lean as is possible without compromising service. u Communicate with your team. Be open and keep them informed on a daily basis. u Review your costs – what are my new overheads with no rates, fewer staff hours, sick pay covered, etc? u Know your numbers – keep an

eye on margins due to the change in sales mix, ie more foods and fewer accessories. u Have a plan – as they say ‘Fail to plan and plan to fail’. You also need to think about pro- tecting your staff and customers – what can you do to make everyone feel safe while in your premises? For example could you mark the floor with a queue system, which will help to keep customers two metres apart? Could you create a system at the till for serving customers with a minimal risk to exposure, for exam- ple by encouraging contactless pay- ments. Think about hygiene. Have a hygiene regime for washing hands, cleaning surfaces, baskets/trollies, PDQ terminals, etc. Then it’s time to consider the opportunities. For example: u How can I engage with the com- munity? u Food is in high demand. Can I con- vert visitors I don’t normally see? (smaller brands seem to have stock and are coping better – can I support them?) u Offer free local delivery to help those in self-isolation and, of course, the vulnerable. u Raise your profile – you’re one of the few on the high street still open. Food sales are the backbone of a business and, with demand the way it is, if retailers can get this right now, it could be a great opportunity to safeguard the shop’s future. For more information on the sup- port Scott can offer email him on scott.naturalworld@gmail.com

TESTS SHOW NO COVID-19 CASES IN PETS

A GLOBAL leader in veterinary diagnostics and software has revealed it has seen no positive covid-19 results in pets to date after testing thousands of cats and dogs. Idexx Laboratories, based in Maine, USA said these new test results align with the current expert understanding that the coronavirus is primarily transmitted person-to- person and supports the recommendation against testing pets for covid-19. “Should leading health authorities determine it is clinically relevant to test pets for the covid-19 virus, Idexx will be ready to make the test available,” said Jay Mazelsky, president and CEO.

The test used is called the Idexx SARS-CoV-2 (covid-19) RealPCR test. “Pets are important members of our family, and we want to keep them healthy and safe. We will continue to monitor covid-19 and pet health across our global Idexx Reference Laboratories network as this situation evolves,” Jay said. Dr. Chris Kremer, a vet with Idexx’s Companion Animal Commercial Business, said: “The global understanding of covid-19 is ever evolving. As part of our research we reviewed more than 5,000 specimens submitted to Idexx reference laboratories for respiratory tests of sick cats and dogs in 17 different countries.”

12

Apr i l 2020

CORONA UPDATE Trade body seeks to clarify rules on 'essential travel'

RETAILERS TRAVELLING to their place of work to trade or tend live- stock have been offered advice by the Ornamental Aquatic Trade Asso- ciation (OATA) on how to proceed. Government regulations to help tackle the pandemic state that nobody can leave home without 'reasonable excuse'. However there has been some confusion

a statement about why you are travelling. A template letter is available on the OATAwebsite. OATAadds: 'We cannot be certain how individual police officers will act in the current cir­ cumstances nor confirm that they will accept your justification for travel.

the usual routines to keep the fish alive and healthy." OATArecommends that any­ one stopped by police when trav­ elling to and from work, or when making collections or providing delivery services, should explain the purpose oftheir journey, how they are acting in accordance with the rules, and give the name of their employer and a telephone number. It also recommends members to carry proofthat they work for a pet shop. Although there is no of­ ficial guidance about what this should constitute, it suggests: • Driving licence • Business card • A copy ofthe premises' pet shop licence • A headed letter from your em­ ployer (in the circumstances an electronic version on your mobile device should suffice) including your name, the name and address ofthe business you work for and

for their travels.

However, there has been some concern around the way such measures are being policed. With possible fines of£60 (£30 ifpaid in a timely manner) doubling with each offence up to unlim- ited fines potentially being im- posed by magistrates' courts, OATAmembers were asking for Dominic Whitmee, CEO, said: " We had originally worked with other trade associations to make sure pet shops were considered essential shops to stay open so we certainly con- sider travelling to those shops to provide that serv- ice is what is called a 'rea- f\ sonable excuse' to be out JI ofthe home. We also be-

REFUSAL

around what thesemight be for pet further guidance. and aquatic retailers.

"lfyou are refused travel then you can consider, in as non-confronta­ tional a manner as possible, ask­ ing the police office for their name and number and a note ex­ plaining that your reason for travel has been refused. "You can explain that these may be needed in case a subsequent prosecution is taken on animal welfare or cruelty grounds. You should report to your local author­ ity as soon as you can that you have been refused by the police to travel to your premises to provide essential animal care."

The Health Protection (Coron- avirus, Restrictions) Regulations 2020 place restrictions on move-

ment, stipulating: "During the emergency period, no person may leave the place where they are living with- out reasonable excuse". It adds that such reason- able excuses might include: "travel for the purposes of

Dominic Whitmee

lieve even ifshops have

work or to provide voluntary or charitable services, where it is not reasonably possible for that per- son to work, or to provide those services, from the place where

chosen not to remain open to vis- iting customers they can still travel to their shop to carry out the huge and essential task of looking after their animals. "Ofall types ofpet shops, aquatic businesses will be the most affected. They potentially have thousands offish to look after. And ifthey are also dealing with reduced staff numbers it will be a marathon task for them to do

they are living."

0

Government advice on busi­ nesses subject to closure excludes pet shops so these, and aquatic businesses, are allowed to remain open and owners and staff there­ fore have a 'reasonable excuse'

BVA NOW SAYS 'NO NEED' TO LOCK DOWN CATS

THE BRITISH Veterinary Association (BVA) has backtracked over advice about whether to keep cats indoors during the coronavirus crisis. On April 8 it appeared to suggest that the UK's estimated 10.9 mil­ lion cats should be kept in during the covid-19 lockdown - advice that was widely reported by the media. However its website was imme­ diately crashed by worried cat own­ ers wanting further information and it had to clarify what it had said, making it clear that only cats from self-isolating or infected households should be kept indoors. The initial advice came following a study that seemed to suggest that cats could carry the virus on fur. The RSPCA has also now waded in with Dr Samantha Gaines, head of the companion animals depart­ ment at the RSPCA, saying: "We do

not recommend keeping a cat inside who is used to going out as this may cause stress and poten­ tially serious health problems. "If you are ill and self-isolating with the virus or someone else in your house is, then we are advising that if your cat is happy to stay in and is used to using a litter tray then keeping them in may be advis­ able. If they go outside a lot then try to minimise interactions and wash your hands afterwards."

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

The BVA's president, Daniella Dos Santos, acknowledged that the association should have been clearer about its early advice. She said: "It's incredibly impor­ tant that information and advice for the public is clear and we regret that this story will have caused wor­ ry and upset amongst cat owners."

pbwnews

April 2020

13

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