May 26 2013 Latest news:
By BEN WOODS
Thursday, December 20, 2012
A Norfolk pet food distributor has heralded the success of its new dog food business after spotting a gap in the market for a premium product.
Su-Bridge pet supplies has already secured two wholesalers for its new brand of dry dog food, Lovejoys – which was launched in August.
It comes after the Saham Toney firm saw its business reduced by about £3m this year when a major supplier stopped providing its premium dog food to wholesalers and delivered directly to pet stores instead.
Now, Su-Bridge is looking to plug this gap in the market by securing two more suppliers, and new export opportunities across Europe, in a bid to expand their business next year.
Ian Manning, managing director of Su-Bridge, has invested about £60,000 in the firm’s new complete dog food range with the hope of increasing the company turnover from £10m to £13m next year.
He said: “When one of our major suppliers announced that they would be pulling back from the wholesale side, we had to look at filling the gap.
“It is a big investment because there is no guarantee it is going to work but it seems like we couldn’t have started at a better time.
“It is all looking positive. With the two wholesalers on board, hopefully we will be up to our current figures for this year and more so.”
Su-Bridge employs 36 staff at its warehouses in west Norfolk where its fleet of seven lorries deliver supplies pet food across the country.
The firm supplies feed, bedding, grooming, clothing, toys and treats, including its own range of rabbit, hamster, guinea pig and wild bird food.
Meanwhile, the Lovejoys range broadens the firm’s dog food offering, which includes the Extra Select complete dog food range.
So far, the firm has secured wholesalers in Lincolnshire and Warwick for Lovejoys, but is hoping to secure a contract in Devon to increase its presence across the country.
Mr Manning said his father, who launched the business more than 40 years ago, was proud of his latest venture, but said he should have done it years ago.
Mr Manning added: “My father was all for it – although he thinks I should have done it two or three years ago.
“We had looked at it before, but there have always been so many different brands available.
“However, Lovejoys is specifically aimed at the independent pet stores.”
Norfolk turkey giant Bernard Matthews is in talks to sell a stake in the business.