From the initial fish-skin treats, the Fish4Dogs product range has expanded to include kibble for dogs, puppies and cats, other treats, salmon mousse and salmon oil—all with fish as the main ingredient.
beautiful county in the heart of England, may be best known for the famous
sauce by the same name. But thanks to the impressive, rapid and truly
international growth of Worcestershire-based petfood company Fish4Dogs, will
the region soon be known for something else?
the six years since it launched, Fish4Dogs has created a place for itself in
the global pet market and consolidated the positive perception of its distinctive
feature: using omega-rich fish as the main ingredient in all its products. “This
feature provides a clear of point of difference with other brands of petfood,”
says Jill Angell, current marketing director and a company co-founder, “and allows Fish4Dogs to
stand out in the crowded marketplace.”
The company and brand name very clearly describes that point
of difference, which stems from the professional history of Angell and her husband,
Robert, combined with their shared love for companion animals. Fish4dogs was the
brainchild of the couple, both former consultants for more than 15 years in the
human grade seafood processing industry.
The Angells started by making treats for their elderly Great
Dane, baking fish skins in their own kitchen. Seeing how much these treats
helped their dog’s mobility and coat condition, they realized the potential for
a dog food based on fish. In 2004, they, along with several other private
shareholders, formed the company.
“There are a number of advantages to fish in a dog’s diet,” Jill
Angell explains. “Fish is naturally high in nutritionally essential omega-3,
which is an important aid to coat and skin condition as well as a way to
maintain joint mobility. Our products, based on total or very high inclusion of
high-quality fish, show an amazing impact on the overall look and outward
health of the dog even within a short period.
“Fish protein is also a high-quality, easily digestible
protein, with around 80% digestion compared to 50% to 60% for some low-quality
meats,” she continues. “This ease of digestion makes fish an excellent
food for dogs with delicate digestions as well as senior dogs whose digestive
systems are starting to slow down.”
Good news spreads fast. Soon the new fish treats were in
demand in pet stores all over the UK and then around the world. In late 2006,
the brand went from the kitchen in the Angells’ house to the factory,
extending from just treats into complete food line, still retaining the core
defining ingredient of fish.
“One of the
key drivers behind the rapid growth of Fish4Dogs has been the power of word of
mouth,” Angell says. “An important characteristic of our products is that the
high level of omega-3 gives fast and visible improvements to the dog’s coat and
mobility. This visible effect proves to the owner that these products work as
promised, a message that consumers are more than happy to pass on.”
Recently Graham Smith joined Fish4Dogs as its new CEO to help guide the company’s brisk growth and expansion into new export markets.
has also relied strongly on people it calls opinion leaders. “One of the
characteristics of the pet market is the amount of research and communication that
goes on between dog owners, and we have benefited greatly,” Angell explains. “This
is why we invest heavily in promoting through the breeder and show community,
with a major stake in championship shows and breeder clubs. These key opinion
leaders have become powerful ambassadors for the brand.”
that going forward, Fish4Dogs plans to continue to involve this opinion leader
community not only at shows but also increasingly through engagement with Internet
key driver to growth has been geographic expansion. From its very early days,
Fish4Dogs has supplied both its domestic market and exports, with the export
business really starting to take off in early 2008. Today, over half of Fish4Dogs’
business comes from sales in Europe and Asia—a total of 30 different countries.
six years ago with only two and a half staff,” says Angell, “Recently, a new CEO, Graham Smith, has been appointed by the board, bringing our staff total to 25. Graham has many
years’ experience in international sales marketing and general management, and
we are all confident he will enjoy being a part of Fish4Dogs at this stage of
2007, Fish4Dogs went into partnership with Norwegian farming cooperative FKRA, which
provided investment support for the company’s development. In 2010, FKRA took a controlling
interest as Robert Angell stepped down from the business. FKRA’s deeper involvement is intended to bring its significant
manufacturing experience to bear, including a new 12 million Euros (US$16.6 million)
state-of-the-art production facility for petfoods based at its headquarters in
Expansion is not over, as the company plans to open up new markets and intensify its presence in underserved territories such as the US (including foods in addition to the treats currently sold there), Eastern Europe and Australia. Also important in the company's strategy is working more closely with current distributors and investing in additional international sales managers, Angell says.
has gone through rapid growth over several years, with sales more than doubling
every year, and expects to continue growing thanks to FKRA’s extra involvement.
“Now the challenge is to absorb this growth while maintaining the high level of
personal, friendly customer service, delivery efficiency and agility that we’ve
achieved so far as a smaller business,” Angell says.
Watch Jill Angell, co-founder and marketing manager of
Fish4Dogs, describe how the company is expanding rapidly beyond its UK base.
Just the facts
Headquarters: Worcestershire, UK
Officers: Jill Angell, founder and
marketing manager; Graham Smith, CEO; Dominic Ebery, sales manager
Sales: Parent company FKRA has annual turnover of
€232 million (US$323.5 million)
Brands: Fish4Dogs, Fish4Puppies,
Distribution: Pet stores and
distributors in 30 countries in Europe and Asia, plus the US (treats)
Facilities: Worcestershire. Parent company FKRA
is based in Stavanger, Norway, with Fish4Dogs part of its Arctic Petfoods
Employees: 25 including a show team for UK
championship shows, sales, marketing and customer service. Parent company FKRA
has 390 employees
Lots of fish—for cats, too
other petfood products with fish as the main protein source, Fish4Dogs uses
only fish and no chicken or other low-cost meat ingredients for bulk, the
common feature of Fish4Dogs recipes is simplicity. The ethos is to use a few
high-quality natural ingredients—with fish as the key one—and no artificial
colors, additives or preservatives. The company also strives to be known for
the high fish content of its products: over 55% fish for adult dog foods and
over 70% for puppy food.
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Fish offers a number of advantages to a dog’s diet, says Jill Angell, including improvements in skin and coat condition, mobility and digestion.
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