Angell Petco Umi

Phil Butler with his cockerpoo, Ziggy.

A successful online dog food retailer has fetched a five-figure investment from the North East Small Loan Fund, supported by the European Regional Development Fund, to help it put scale-up plans into action.

Angell Petco sells its own brand range of natural healthy premium dog food, as well as private label healthy natural treats and salmon oil, and was acquired last year by Phil and Lyndsay Butler after they moved back to the region from Newcastle in Australia.

The Morpeth-headquartered business, which has seen a significant spike in demand in the last few weeks as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak leading more people to shop online, is aiming to more than double its annual turnover by the end of next year.

It has worked with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers to secure the £37,000 investment, which is being used to support a number of improvements to its systems and offering.

An upgrade of the www.angellpetco.com website is set to launch imminently, while resources are being dedicated to a range of new digital advertising and marketing activities.

A number of new ancillary products are also expected to be added to the Angell Petco range in the coming months.

As well as servicing individual dog owners, Angell Petco has developed a speciality in meeting the needs of customers who need to order in bulk, including dog breeders and owners of several and/or larger animals.

Ayden de Beer, corporate finance executive at RMT Accountants & Business Advisors, has worked with Phil and Lyndsay Butler on the continuing development of the business.

Phil Butler said: “When we took over the business, we saw opportunities to build on what it offered to customers and to make structural and operational improvements that would help us do even better in the future.

“Our focus has always been to ensure we’re providing the sort of high-quality products that we’d be happy to give to our own dog at the best possible prices. The work we’ve done over the last few months has helped us get the business model where we want it.

“There’s been a real surge in demand over recent weeks, but we’ve been able to cope with it pretty well - our supply chains have been standing up strongly, stock levels remain high and our couriers are doing a great job in getting orders out to customers as quickly as possible.

“The new website and marketing drive will help us maximise the benefits we can gain from this surge in interest, while gradually adding quality new products to the range will give customers more reasons to spend a greater proportion of their pet budgets with us.

“The Small Loan Fund investment has been central to us putting all these plans into action and the support we got from the NEL investment team made bringing it into the business a very straightforward process.”

Part of the £120m North East Fund and aimed predominantly at smaller SMEs, the £9m North East Small Loan Fund typically offers loans of between £10,000 and £50,000 to businesses in Tyne & Wear, Durham and Northumberland.

It is designed to assist with the creation of over 1,200 new regional jobs in more than 320 SMEs over the life of the fund.

Jane Siddle, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, added: “Angell Petco is a strong brand in a lucrative market that is renowned for customer loyalty, and their development plans represented an excellent investment opportunity for us.”

The overarching £120m North East Fund will provide financial support for more than 600 businesses, creating around 3,500 jobs and delivering a legacy of up to £80m for further investment into the region.

Amanda Armstrong
Article by Amanda Armstrong
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