Watton-based Natures Menu reveals bold plan to double in size and break into dry pet food market

Natures Menu in Watton. From left, MD Craig Taylor and business development director Peter Roy. Pict

Natures Menu in Watton. From left, MD Craig Taylor and business development director Peter Roy. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

An ambitious five-year plan to double in size and break into the dry pet food market has driven Natures Menu to invest £10.5m in a new factory.

The Watton-based producer, which is expanding into a 10-acre site at Snetterton, wants to increase its market footprint across the UK, Scandinavia and Germany by introducing a new 'bespoke' product in September next year.

It comes after parent company Anexhold reported a 30% boost in sales from £19.6m to £25.5m for the year ending March 31, 2016.

The sharpest increase was seen in its overseas sales, which rose 45% to £1.5m, and pre-tax profits more than doubled over the same period, from £1.5m to £3.6m.

Natures Menu managing director Craig Taylor said the business had hit its targets over the last five years – growing from £10m turnover – and now wanted to double the units of pet food produced each month.

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'It's an extremely competitive market area dominated by worldwide companies such as Mars and Nestle,' he said. 'We are providing new, innovative and quality product for pets.'

Plans include investing £3m in new machinery from Denmark, to produce a dry-food pet product, which Mr Taylor said was new to the UK and would be produced at the new Snetterton factory.

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'We will continue investing in new technology which will enable us to produce some new bespoke product which is innovative to the UK market,' he added.

Due to be launched in September 2017, Mr Taylor said the new dry food followed on from a period of consolidation for the business, which moved away from selling commodity-based pet food components and private label products about five years ago.

He said: 'As a business if you tend not to be focused on the thing you are good at you can tend to waste a lot of energy trying to satisfy parts of the business maybe you are not so good at.

'We are really good in dog, we want to be really good in cat and now we want to be really good in dry food as well.'

However the impact of Britain's vote to leave the European Union was expected to have an impact on trade, said Mr Taylor, who added a weak sterling could lead to increased prices for overseas customers.

'We are going to become uncompetitive in that market,' he said.

Steel at the Snetterton factory is due to be installed by the end of the month, and when complete, the factory will add about 30 staff members to the 220-strong workforce.

Are you expanding your business? Email sabah.meddings@archant.co.uk

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