United Raw Pet Foods, a majority-owned subsidiary of merchant bank Dane Creek Capital, acquired pet specialty retailer Growlies Pet Foods, a pet specialty retailer based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, in an all-cash transaction. Growlies was founded by Jo-Anne and Neal Cropper in 2007. This transaction marks Dane Creek’s first acquisition of a pet specialty retailer.
Under the terms of the acquisition, United Raw will also enter into lease agreements with N.J. Cropper Holdings Ltd., a company owned by the Croppers, for ongoing use of not only the Growlies retail location but also, a warehouse/freezer located approximately two kilometers from the store. No other terms were disclosed.
Growlies is one of the largest pet specialty retailers in British Columbia focusing on the sale of frozen raw pet food. Growlies’ mission is to make raw, high-quality pet food as accessible as possible to pet owners in the community it serves. Growlies also offers customers a limited selection of dehydrated and canned food as well as a range of premium supplements and treats. Sales of raw pet food made up over 80% of Growlies’ 2020 revenue.
This transaction represents the first acquisition of a pet specialty retailer by United Raw. To date, United Raw has acquired five Canadian manufacturers of frozen raw pet food including Naturawls Pet Products, Spring Meadows Natural Pet Food, Mountain Dog Enterprises Inc., Pets4Life, and Tollden Farms Inc., which, in aggregate, produce ten brands of frozen raw pet food. United Raw also maintains a minority interest in Pet Plate, a US-based company offering lightly cooked pet food, and its majority-owner, Dane Creek also owns several pet supplements and pet treat manufacturers in Canada.
While Growlies offers dog and cat owners nearly 25 different brands of frozen raw pet food to choose from, United Raw’s Naturawls is the fastest-growing brand within Growlies’ top seven best-selling raw foods and is sold alongside four other United Raw brands. Outside the United Raw family, Growlies’ selection of frozen raw pet foods includes brands such as Buddies, Mega Dog, Pets Go Raw, and Red Dog Blue Kat.
“Growlies is a unique opportunity for us to pair a leading, if not the leading, raw food retail operation in the country with the additional infrastructure needed to better serve all of our retail customers on Vancouver Island,” said Mark Warren, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Dane Creek, in a press release. “We expect to derive significant benefits via the vertical integration of these components into our existing business.”
Growlies motto of “no kibble, no wheat, no corn and no soy” is one which is now being embraced more and more among pet specialty retailers across Canada. It is estimated that freezer space in pet retail locations grew by more than 25% in 2020 and is set to expand by a further 25% again in 2021, according to the Dane Creek press release.
“Jo-Anne and I felt that at this stage in the growth of Growlies, it made sense for us to align ourselves with Dane Creek given its focus on the pet industry in Canada and the raw food segment in particular,” Cropper said in a press release. “We were pleased with the resources Dane Creek was able to allocate to ensure that the sale was completed in a timely and efficient manner.”
“The United Raw team, which includes personnel on Vancouver Island, looks forward to working with Neal, Jo-Anne and the highly trained advisors and associates at Growlies who are steadfastly dedicated to improving the health and welfare of dogs and cats in Victoria and its surrounding communities,” Warren said.
About Dane Creek Capital Corp.
Dane Creek Capital Corp. is a privately held Canadian merchant banking venture dedicated to the pet industry. With over 30 years of experience in the pet industry and an extensive network of industry professionals, we offer valuable financial and management support to up-and-coming companies in the companion animal sector through selective, strategic investments in Canada, the US and the UK. Our investment horizon is long-term taking into account current trends and changes in pet owner demographics with a current focus on opportunities in sustainable and raw pet food products, pet supplements and nutraceuticals, alternative models for veterinary care, pet insurance and biotechnology. To date, we have acquired or invested in 14 pet businesses in North America.
About United Raw Pet Foods Inc.
United Raw Pet Foods Inc. is Canada’s leader in alternative pet foods, with a current focus on the frozen raw sub-category. Owned 70% by Dane Creek Capital Corp. and 30% by other shareholders of Dane Creek Capital Corp., United Raw is the largest family of Canadian alternative pet food brands. To date, United Raw has acquired five manufacturers of frozen raw pet foods including Mountain Dog Enterprises Inc. (Edmonton, AB); Pets 4 Life (St. Thomas, ON); Naturawls Pet Products (St. Thomas, ON); Natural Chow Pet Food Corp., the maker of ‘Spring Meadows’(Saskatoon, SK); and Tollden Farms Inc (Kemptville, ON). United Raw also acquired a minority stake in Pet Plate, a US-based, direct-to-consumer provider of lightly cooked pet food, in 2018.