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PET GAZETTE March 2011

Cat history The enduring appeal of our feline friend

Canine athletics

The dietary needs of the working dog

Turn to page 11 to find out more

toasting the future: pet gazette celebrates its fourth anniversary and its 40th issue

The birds and the bees

The f-force

With spring just around the corner, retailers can stock up on a variety of products to help wildlife

Fibrevores such as guinea pigs and rabbits require roughage in their diet, which is key to their health and wellbeing

This month

Editor’s letter

MARCH 2011 Contents Roundup 


Three minute interview 


New appointments 


The latest news from the industry Billy Milburn of Bestpets

Pastures new for professionals in the pet trade

Shaping the future with design 


Taking stock 


Sustaining the canine athlete 


Food for thought 


The f force 


A clean sweep 


History of the cat 


The best things come in small packages 


PATS Harrogate preview 


Six of the best 


Pond plant care 


Towards sustainability 


The birds and the bees 


UK registered trademark attorney Ann Roome explains why it is important to register product designs The latest products for the pet trade Sarah Jacotine discovers that working dogs have specific nutritional requirements above and beyond those of the average pet This month, Michael Bellingham of the PFMA looks at how pet foods are becoming more sophisticated and are incorporating ingredients to actively improve health Fibre is an essential requirement of guinea pigs, rabbits, chinchillas and degus. Naomi Chatterley, marketing manager of Burgess Pet Care explains how owners can include this in their pet’s diet

Tim Hayes of Midland Reefs looks at the topic of fish tank maintenance and how retailers can capitalise on the sale of associated products One of the UK’s most popular pets, the cat has a long and illustrious history. Holly Mash traces its origins from ancient Egypt to its place in the modern day home Nick Mays considers the appeal of mice from housing and feeding to the 50 different varieties available A taster of the second of the two PATS events, which is gearing up to offer the best products and services from the pet sector Susannah Nichol looks at the latest products to help customers get their ponds ready for the new season Dr Jeremy Biggs and Dr Angela Mary Julian of Pond Conservation offer advice on how to deal with problem pond plants Two of MARS Fishcare’s key figures discuss the company’s role as a pioneer in the aquatics industry, its cutting edge research centre and the company’s move towards sustainability CJ Wildbird Foods looks at the retail opportunties in wildlife care, with spring being the perfect time to put up nest boxes and feed high energy bird foods

I hope you enjoy the issue.



Voice on the highstreet 


Upcoming shows, forums and meetings in the world of pets Pauline Selby of Pets Etcetera, Chelmsford


his is a busy time of year with many of you visiting PATS and no matter how large or small your business, attending a trade show can bring many benefits. Not only do you get an opportunity to see new product ranges, it is a great way to establish new contacts. The PATS event is one of the most important in the pet industry and for 2011 the organisers have expanded to additional halls to accommodate increased demand for space. Many retailers have discovered that a visit to PATS includes many cost saving benefits with companies offering exclusive deals on orders placed at the shows. This is also a memorable month for the Pet Gazette magazine as we are celebrating a special anniversary. This is now the fourth year we have been delivering news, views and advice to the pet sector. The magazine has enjoyed great success since its launch and let’s hope this continues in the coming years. Many of you may also be looking ahead to spring and the products you want to get in stock for the coming season. Your customers may well be taking their first tentative steps outdoors, whether it’s to carry out pond maintenance or encourage wildlife into their garden. The features on spring wildlife care and our look at some of the best pond care products currently on the market may be of particular interest to you. A report by insurance company Petplan, has shown that according to the UK’s vets, four out of five rabbits coming into practices have health problems that are directly related to poor diet such as obesity, overgrown teeth and constipation. The major cause of these conditions is a lack of fibre in their diet and with the right feeding plan these problems can be eliminated. This is also true for animals such as guinea pigs, chinchillas and degus. This is a topic we have chosen to explore in more depth in this issue and hopefully you will find some useful advice on improving the diet and quality of life of fibrevores, which you can pass on to your customers. Finally, I would just like to remind you to keep us informed about the businesses you run. If you have taken on any new employees we are happy to include this in our new appointments section, or if you want to write about the day-today running of your pet shop and appear in our Voice on the highstreet interview, please email me at the address below.

Sam Guiry




PET GAZETTE Established 2008

Managing Editor

Louise Hoffman Editor

Sam Guiry Editorial Assistants

Susannah Nichol Jon Chapple

“Business as usual” following Copdock Mill arson attack

Pet and animal feed wholesaler H G Gladwell & Sons has announced that it is “business as usual” for all trade customers following a vicious ram raid and arson attack. Thieves broke into the country store shop at the Copdock Mill site on 2 February and stole a sum of money from the safe. However, as the main company wholesale site is located far from where the criminal activity took place, there has been no severe disruption to business. Andy Morgan, marketing and business development manager at H G Gladwell & Sons, said: “The fire was at our shop and has in no way affected any part of our wholesale distribution service.” He added: “Our wholesale collection customers have been catered for with a service similar to the one already in place. We would like to thank all our customers for their kind words and offers of assistance and wish you all an event-free and profitable year!”

Production Assistant

Lewis Bowes Group Advertisement Manager

Kelly Smith Advertisement Manager

Julie-Ann Kwok Accounts

Maureen Scrivener Customer Services

01206 767 797 Contributing writers Michael Bellingham, Dr Jeremy Biggs & Dr Angela Mary Julian, Naomi Chatterley, Tim Hayes, Sarah Jacotine, Holly Mash, Nick Mays, Ann Roome Design

Arthouse Publishing Solutions Ltd

Pet Gazette is published monthly by:

Mulberry Publications Ltd, Wellington House, Butt Road, Colchester CO3 3DA Tel: 01206 767 797 Fax: 01206 767 532 The editor and publishers do not guarantee the accuracy of statements made by contributors or advertisers, or accept responsibility for any statement that they express in this publication. The opinion of the contributors may not necessarily be the opinion of the publishers. Articles are considered for publication on the basis that they are the author’s original work. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the permission of the publishers.

Woman has been imprisoned after pet cremation fraud Emma Bent who ran Peak Pet Cremations in Derbyshire has been sentenced to eight months in prison after she admitted discarding the bodies of her customers’ pets in a Ripley field. Ms Bent took payment after she claimed to have cremated the pets for a local veterinary firm. The court heard she had invoiced the firm for more than £91,000 for the disposal of more than 2,800 pets. The RSPCA was able to identify the location of the animals as some of them had been micro-chipped. Officers at the scene of the crime discovered more than 100 bags of clinical waste that included the decomposing parts of animals. One of the pet owners, Linda Allen, said: “This was wicked from someone who claims she loves animals – how could she treat our dogs like waste?” After initially blaming burglars, Bent pleaded guilty to seven counts of fraud and 16 other offences brought by the Environment Agency and Derbyshire County Council, including use of an unapproved incinerator and disposal of animal by-products.

Dangerous levels of bacteria are present on pet toys Dog and cat owners in the UK are being advised to ensure their pets’ toys are regularly cleaned after a study revealed that levels of bacteria on these products can be dangerously high. Research carried out for Microban Europe on plastic and rubber dog and cat toys showed that most sampled in the study returned bacterial counts from approximately 9,000 to 200,000 colony forming units. Dr Nicholas Moon PhD, director of technical and regulatory affairs at Microban Europe, explained: “Pet toys will be very prone to the growth of bacteria, often carried around in the mouths of pets and left unattended for quite long periods, sometimes indoors in warm conditions where bacteria can grow very quickly.” He added: “The potential danger of bacteria growing on each toy exists both for the pet and also for the owners who handle the toy when they play with their pet.” Dr Moon recommends pet owners should have regular cleaning routines using an effective and safe product to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

Image: Sue Byford

BRC calls for courts to permanently crackdown on crime The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has asked courts to enforce fines to help tackle retail crime. A significant step has been made towards the proper enforcement of penalty notices with a month-long crackdown on fines by Her Majesty’s Court Service, but this should become a more permanent policy, the BRC stated. The BRC’s latest annual crime survey highlighted a rise in the value of goods stolen from shops and called for an increased level of commitment from law makers and law enforcers to tackle the problem. Retailers have increased their own spending on crime prevention to £210 million a year. BRC director of business and regulation, Tom Ironside, said: “Letting offenders get away with not paying fines discourages the police and retailers themselves, who need to have faith in the system. This month-long crackdown by the court service is a very positive move and we would welcome efforts to make this approach a more permanent fixture.”


FAB cats study day to be held in Edinburgh The Edinburgh Feline Advisory Bureau (FAB) feline study day on 20 May will provide an opportunity to improve feline knowledge at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh. Sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim and Protexin, the meeting is open to all members of FAB and interested members of the public. Professor Danielle GunnMoore will take a look at mycobacterial diseases, such as tuberculosis and upper respiratory tract infections including cat flu. The lower respiratory tract infections will be covered in a separate session by lecturer Kerry Simpson. The FAB resident at Edinburgh University, Stephanie Lalor, will be discussing infectious diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. The study day will also look at feline behavioural problems and the use of Aerokat and environmental modifications for feline asthmas. To book, download the registration form from and return the completed form to the FAB office or email or call Amanda Dennant on 01747 871 872.


Three minute interview Billy Milburn of Bestpets

Describe yourself in three words Below average height.

What is your earliest memory?

Rising retail figures boosted by one-off factors

Steam trains running at the back of the house.

The predictions of doom and gloom on the high street have yet to materialise, with year-on-year sales in January up 9.1 per cent, according to worldwide network of accountancy firms, the BDO LLP. BDO LLP has claimed that while the year-on-year figures were boosted by comparisons with weeks affected by heavy snowfall in the early days of 2010, there was growth across the board. Milder weather and continued discounting also offered a welcome boost to mid-market retailers and helped ensure a strong first half of January. However, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has stated these new figures are distorted by factors unique to January. BRC director general Stephen Robertson explained: “Superficially, these are strong figures but they don’t indicate any permanent revival in customers’ willingness to spend. Growth this January was driven by a relatively short but strong burst of non-food buying early in the month. But these are short-term influences. Our own figures show spending tailed off sharply as the month developed. Slumping consumer confidence indicates concerns about jobs and finances are now reasserting themselves.” The BRC is now looking ahead to the following months to get a more reliable indicator of sales trends.

When you were at school, what did you want to be and why?

Online pet retailer reports record growth Online retailer Pet has delivered a record year in sales over the last 12 months, with growth predicted to continue in the next financial year. The online pet superstore, which has been in operation since 2004, broke sales records in nearly every month of 2010, attaining a year-on-year growth of 44 per cent and a 58 per cent increase in order volumes. Managing director of Pet, Mark Berriman, said: “I am proud that we succeeded in growing our business in what has been a tough year because of a tightening market, but these are an encouraging set of results.” The retailer achieved turnover of over £6 million in its financial year and is hoping for much of the same again in 2011 with further improvements to its ecommerce platform in the pipeline.

A wagon driver. Kids are cruel and being below average height I thought I would run a few over. Revenge is sweet. What was the first music album you bought? The Mothers of Invention Live at the Fillmore East.

If you could have dinner with one person, who would you choose and why? Winston Churchill – he had bottle.

What is the best advice you have been given? My father-in-law Merv told me to let my son be a child and not a robot.

What is your next goal in life? To see Bestpets improve its current market share.

If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you choose and why? Galapagos Islands – I watched a nature documentary and that was that.

What is your favourite quote or saying? The football will never get tired, therefore let the football do the work.

What is the most important thing that your job has taught you? You are only as good as your last sale.



and briefly

Dangerous dog legislation that focuses on behaviour not breed has been postponed

Fish4Dogs expands with new acquisition

A government review of the widely criticised Dangerous Dogs Act (1991) in the House of Lords has been suspended due to the extended debate on voting reform. The Dog Control Bill was planned to replace the Dangerous Dogs Act (1991) to target the behaviour of any dog, and more importantly their owners, and reduce the occurrence of serious dog incidents rather than demonising specific breeds or types. Lord Redesdale said: “It is generally accepted that the Dangerous Dogs Act (1991) is the most discredited piece of legislation on the statute book. The current law has done nothing but make banned breeds and their look-a-likes more appealing and created the issue of ‘status’ dogs because they are seen as status symbols.” Over 10,000 people have signed up to support the bill, including leading animal welfare organisations and charities. Defra’s recent public consultation on dangerous dogs showed further support for this approach with 71 per cent of respondents calling for breed specific legislation to be repealed. A new date for the committee stage of the Dog Control Bill has not been announced, but animal welfare and veterinary organisations, charities and local authorities are vowing to continue their campaign. ‘Focus on the other end of the lead’ Lord Redesdale

Fish4Dogs has made a key move to strengthen its logistical operations with the acquisition of MarinPet UK. Previously, all operations had been outsourced to independently-owned Marinpet UK. But now the Fish4Dogs board has announced that it has purchased 100 per cent of Marinpet. CEO Graham Smith said: “Fish4Dogs has experienced massive growth over the last four years, with a doubling of both UK and export sales every 12 months. A significant investment programme, agreed with majority shareholders FKRA, will allow us to maintain this growth for the foreseeable future.”

Success for Burgess small animal show The ‘Crufts’ of the small animal world, the Burgess Premier Small Animal Show, saw a massive 50 per cent increase in attendance of its newly rebranded 89th event. Previously known as the Bradford Championship Show, the re-named Burgess Premier Small Animal Show is the longest running event of its kind in the UK for all small furry pets. With Burgess Pet Care’s increased investment in the show, including development of a new brand, new website and a greater number of event attractions, the show sold out its trade area and doubled visitor numbers.

First UK pet panel tests new products Rupert’s Pet Shop has launched the UK’s first pet panel in the south west of England to help decide which products are made and sold in the UK market. The panel, comprising six dogs, will test out new product ideas. The company plans to recruit further pet panels across the UK throughout 2011. A diverse range of breeds and ages have been selected for the panel to make it as representative as possible. The current line-up includes a labradoodle, a Dalmatian, a Collie cross, a Jack Russell, a Staffordshire bull terrier and a retriever.

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A vote in the Scottish Parliament to block the proposed Large Retailer Levy is the right decision for Scotland’s future economic prosperity, the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) has said. The SRC argued against the extra tax on large shops and believed, if put in place, the tax would damage Scotland’s reputation as a good place to do business. Retailers with stores in Scotland also warned future expansion plans would be in doubt if the new levy was introduced. The SRC is now urging the Scottish Government to consult retailers about future proposals affecting the sector to allow more time to be spent assessing the potential impact of policies to make sure they don’t threaten the wider economy. Fiona Moriarty, director of the SRC, commented: “The fact this ill-conceived levy has been stopped will come as a huge relief to everyone who cares about Scotland’s economic prosperity. In future, the Scottish Government should consult with the sector at an earlier stage, so unintended and damaging consequences can be identified in good time and avoided.”



A nationwide initiative by leading natural parasite control expert Verm-X has put a prize fund of £5,000 up for grabs. Customers wishing to enter the competition need to purchase a Verm-X product with the ‘Everyone’s a Verm-X Winner’ sticker on to be in with a chance to win. Five prize draws will take place throughout the year, with each winner receiving £1,000.

Scottish retail levy has been blocked

ecom me nd



New appointments

New appointments Pastures new for professionals in the pet trade Abbey

Greg Brown has joined the family team at Abbey, Britain’s leading wholesaler of products for the equestrian and allied trades. Greg, who is the grandson of Abbey’s founder Gerald Brown, recently graduated from the University of Manchester with a joint honours degree in maths and physics. High-flyer Greg has a real eye for business development and has already introduced some exciting changes at the Walsall base, where he is assistant manager. Greg aims to bring the foundry into the 21st century and modernise the way the business is run.


In line with its ongoing commitment to improving animal welfare, Radio Systems Corporation, owner of PetSafe, has made a high profile appointment and welcomed Dean Vickers as director of animal welfare studies and education. Dean has an impressive track record as an advocate for animal welfare and will play a key role in providing education on the proper use and benefits of PetSafe products to legislators and pet owners worldwide. He will also collaborate with the new PetSafe engineers and designers to facilitate new products and improve existing design based on feedback from the pet behaviour community.

Burgess Pet Care

Burgess Pet Care has welcomed Richard Rocket as the new brand manager for its Supadog, Supacat and Lifelong brands. Richard will be responsible for the growth and evolution of the three brands – all currently at different stages of development. Utilising the full marketing mix, he will shape both the consumer and trade plans, for the fledgling Lifelong brand, to the newly re-launched Supacat range, right through to the well-established Supadog brand. Richard joins Burgess Pet Care from Young’s Seafood and his wealth of experience will be a key asset to the Burgess Pet Care team.


Animal bedding manufacturer SmartBedz has appointed Nigel Bateson to the role of sales and marketing manager. Nigel, who will be responsible for the range of eco-friendly straw pellets, joins the company after six years as sales and marketing manager at My Pet Foods. Nigel said: “With the growing demand for environmentally-friendly products, it is clear that this will be an interesting challenge, and I am looking forward to using my experience and expertise to help further develop the brand. One of the first steps we are taking is to exhibit at both PATS events and we look forward to seeing lots of people there.”

Frank Wright Trouw Nutrition International

Frank Wright Trouw Nutrition International (FWTNI) has appointed Stacey Aram to the position of pet business technical adviser, based at the head office in Ashbourne, Derbyshire. Ms Aram has extensive experience in the pet food industry and joins the company from Golden Acres Pet Food Partners where she headed up the nutritional advisory department. At FWTNI she will work closely with the quality team to further reinforce the company’s commitment to delivering the highest possible standards of quality assurance and food safety to the pet food sector.

Wagg Foods

Wagg Foods, an independent manufacturer of complete dry dog food, has appointed David Shorthouse as area sales manager in the north west of England to work across both the Wagg and Harringtons brands. Previously with Nestlé Purina, David has over 10 years of extensive sales experience with a background in production, and is an expert in brand growth and account management. David will help Wagg to invest heavily in growing sales within the independent pet trade sector on both of its brands, taking advantage of its ideal positioning in the current economic climate.

Has someone recently joined or moved to a new role within your company? You can send the details and a photo to


Product design

Shaping the future with design

Having previously looked at protecting trademarks, brands and logos, UK registered trademark attorney Ann Roome turns her attention to the importance of registering product designs


here is no doubt that the pet industry is very inventive, constantly introducing new products into the marketplace. A visit to any good pet store should be an exciting experience for pet owners, who will be drawn to products, with good design. So what do registered designs protect? Essentially, they protect the overall visual appearance of products which includes the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture and ornamentation. They can also protect the ornamentation alone, for example, a pattern or stylised logo or part of a product such as a brush handle. What they do not protect is a technical or innovative step or method – this is more likely to be protected by way of a patent. Shapes which are necessary to perform a technical function can also not be registered as a design. Examples of what can be registered in the pet market range from grooming products such as brushes; bedding products; all kinds of pet houses, including pens, cages and aquaria; collars, leashes and harnesses; feeding implements such as bowls and spoons; and even foodstuffs themselves, such as the novel shape of biscuits or kibble. The packaging of any of these products can also be registered as designs and so can the huge range of toys, training products and even clothing. To qualify as a valid registered design, the design itself must be new. It should have

individual character and be different from the designs of others and those which are already in the public domain. A registered design right is a monopoly right. In other words, it gives the owner the exclusive right to use the design and any similar design, which does not create an overall different impression on the informed user. There is no requirement to prove copying. However, it should be noted that a registered design is not infringed by a product which creates an overall different impression on the informed user. When the courts consider this question, they take into account the amount of freedom the designer had when producing the product. This issue was recently discussed in Dyson Limited v Vax Limited [2010] EWHC 1923 (pat). In this case, Sir James Dyson claimed that a cyclone vacuum cleaner launched by Vax was a copy of his own design. The judge accepted that although the two vacuum cleaners did look alike, on closer inspection there were significant differences in the technical specifications with the Dyson described as ‘smooth, curving and elegant’ and the Vax ‘rugged, angular and industrial.’ Here, there was freedom in the design, an informed user could clearly see this, and thus there was no infringement on Dyson’s registered design. As with most registrable intellectual property rights, these rights are territorial. For UK businesses, registered design rights in the

UK are generally obtained by way of a UK registered design or a community registered design, which protects the design in all 27 member states of the European Union. It is also possible to extend those rights to other territories overseas within certain time limits. UK and community registered design rights can be protected for up to 25 years provided that renewal fees are paid at five-year intervals. There are different requirements for the different jurisdictions and you should seek advice on the best course of action for your particular situation. In practice, registered design rights can be extremely effective and powerful tools which can be obtained at competitive cost. If you create a product which has an individual design, in total or in part, and you think your competitors will copy it, consult an IP specialist for advice on registering the design, but do this before disclosing the design to any third parties. Ann Roome, Roome Associates Ltd Roome Associates Limited is a trademark consultancy firm which advises on all aspects of trademarks, domain names and related intellectual property in the UK and internationally. For more information contact

“Your customers love being spoilt for choice”

The ultimate collection of delectable meals In January 2011 GOURMET® launched 6 NEW Specialist Exclusive Gold Singles, taking the Gold Singles range from 9 to 15 varieties. This is an exciting opportunity to further grow the luxury category and to offer Luxury shoppers the variety they seek.

GOURMET® is now the only brand to offer such a wide range of Singles. By making these products available in Specialist pet retailers only, the brand can drive footfall and loyalty to your stores.

For more information and exclusive offers please contact your Nestlé Purina representative or call our retailer support team on 01780 483300 ®Reg. Trademark of Société des Produits Nestlé S.A.


Taking stock


Glowcroft Glowcroft has introduced a new pot-filling line to its list of innovative packing services. The packaging company offers a complete service including brand design, innovative packaging ideas, a quality contract packing service, storage and distribution. Glowcroft packs for a variety of product sectors including the pet food industry and is always keen to discuss new products and packaging concepts with any potential clients. Information: 01449 723 330 or


Northern Pet Trade A great new range of parrot toys produced by King’s Cages has been launched by Northern Pet Trade. Parrot toys offer opportunities for shredding, chewing and foraging to keep companion birds thoroughly entertained. Also foot toys and activity toys such as the basketball hoop are great for that essential one-to-one bonding time with their owner. New toys are especially important for these intelligent feathered friends to keep their environment fresh and interesting. Information: 01706 507 803 or


Bestpets Bestpets premium wild bird food is a superb all-year-round feed. Formulated to attract a wide range of garden birds, the wild bird food is a good source of complex carbohydrates and oils for an energypacked mix. The smaller seeds make the product more attractive to a broader range of species, attracting blackbirds, tits, finches, doves, starlings and sparrows. It can be fed through seed feeders. Bestpets premium wild bird food can support birds through the winter, as well as during their breeding and nesting seasons. Information: 01484 481 150 or


Dodson & Horrell Ltd Chudleys has over 30 years of expertise in feeding working dogs. Its range of products provides for a working dog’s period of rest right through to the highest level of work. With a greater proportion of energy from fats to help with performance and scenting ability, Chudleys working diets are designed to improve stamina and recovery and make dogs sharper and more efficient throughout the day. Information: 0845 345 2627 or


Pet Noodles Pet Noodles is a brand new concept in dog feeding. Made with only natural ingredients using just noodles and real meat or fish chunks, Pet Noodles is a new tasty way to introduce variety into the normal feed. Ideally used to complement a regular feeding regime as a bonus at breakfast, lunch or brunch, the packs are also really easy to use. Pet Noodles are available in shelf-ready outers of 14 single serve packs in beef, lamb and fish flavours. Information: 0844 858 4580 or

Taking stock


Burgess Pet Care Burgess Pet Care is committed to helping independent pet traders expand their business. The Burgess Pet Care Platinum Retailer Scheme is designed specifically with independent retailers in mind. The company offers in-depth product and merchandising training, together with a store layout analysis service in order to help retailers maximise their sales. The smart and professional support materials include branded clothing, training guides and POS materials to help retailers demonstrate their commitment to customer experience at all times. Information: 01751 474 123 or


Ecopond Following the success of its original Tadpole Food, Ecopond has developed a new product to feed tadpoles in the later stages of development. Ecopond Late Stage Tadpole Food was launched at Aqua2010 where it received strong interest. A protein-based food, it provides tadpoles with the nutrition they need during the late stages of development after they develop back legs. It complements the original vegetable-based product for early stage tadpoles and means that retailers can now offer wildlife enthusiasts products for the entire life-cycle. Information: 01225 767 919 or


Hertford Shelving Ltd Hertford Shelving Ltd is a shopfitting company based on the Herts/Essex border, just five miles outside the M25. For over 20 years the company has been a supplier of all types of shopfitting equipment and displays and has offered a complete shopfitting service to veterinary practices, garden centres and the pet and aquatic trade. With its metal shelving, slatted panels and accessories, counters and displays, Hertford Shelving Ltd can transform an empty wall or floor space into a retail area, making profits grow. Information: 01992 892 898 or


Nurtured Pets Safely and easily stop four-legged friends from chewing walls, woodwork and personal items around the home with Anti-Chew Strip Home. The long, thin strip (sold in five foot rolls) is made with a patented blend of natural ingredients – including cayenne pepper, lemon powder, clove oil and oregano – and keeps dogs and cats away from surfaces they shouldn’t be chewing. Not only is this product safe for pets, but it’s also safe for furniture. It features peel-and-stick adhesive squares for simple and easy attachment to almost anything. Just peel and stick for no more chewing. Information: 02476 302 222 or


Pet Republic Pet Republic’s Tommy and Louise have had a busy start to the year with the launch of the first website and a new novel range of caricature door mats. Pet Republic has an extensive range of barrier rugs, absorbent food mats and car boot rugs. With increasing customer interest in outdoor mats, Pet Republic has now decided to create its own fun range of mats that are suitable for outdoor conditions. Made from recycled rubber, the outdoor mats come in two designs – Hugo the dog and Henry the cat. Information: 01442 419 640 or



Taking stock


Lily’s Kitchen Lily’s Kitchen complete dry food is a unique formulation. Reputed to be the only dry food in the world not to include chicken meal, Lily’s Kitchen uses fresh, organic, free-range chicken. The formula is certified organic, wheat-free and has a long list of nutritious whole ingredients. It is low in fat and ash and is also ideal for dogs who are overweight. Customers using the foods for their pets have reported rapid improvement in skin condition, digestibility and overall health benefits. Lily’s Kitchen is available in one kilogram and 7.5 kilogram bags. Information: 0207 433 1863 or


Peregine Live Foods ProRep has released two new ready-to-use disinfectant products designed specifically for use with reptiles. VivClean is a disinfectant designed for everyday use and is effective against many micro-organisms including salmonella. Ultimate Vivarium Cleaner is a professional product that claims to kill 99.99 per cent of bacteria, viruses and fungi, including cryptosporidia, and gives long-lasting protection. Both products can be used to sanitise water and clean food dishes, vivariums, equipment and all hard surfaces. These products join the other best-sellers in the extensive ProRep range of professional reptile products.

Collarways hh

Distributor of the durable, interactive range of Zogoflex dog toys, Collarways has launched a limited edition range of toys in pink and lilac, including the new Mini Zisc and Mini Hurley for toy breeds and small puppies. Made from a plastic composite containing recycled plastic bottles, Zogoflex toys bounce, float and are dishwasher-safe. They are also free from harmful substances and therefore safe for dogs to chew. Like all Zogoflex toys they are guaranteed against dog damage and customers can claim a one-time replacement or refund. See them at PATS Sandown R22 and Harrogate H23

Information: 0800 919 631 or

Information: 0845 456 8395 or


AAK Fullolife The new Fullolife range of nutritional oil-based supplements for dogs will be on show at both PATS events. Fullolife is from AAK, a leading manufacturer of premium grade, sustainably-sourced, nutritional oils and ingredients. Formulated to help keep pets looking and feeling their best, the Fullolife range includes Fullolife Pure Cod Liver Oil, High Strength Joint Care, Calmer and Skin & Coat. The range is based purely on natural active ingredients, which the company says offers properties to benefit health and meet optimum dietary requirements. See the range of Fullolife Supplements at PATS Sandown R8 and PATS Harrogate H71. Information: 01482 701 271 or


Sky Pet Products Sky Pet Products has launched a new addition to the exclusive Summer Meadows range. Made from high quality timber and twice treated with preservative, the new nine foot poultry house is suitable for up to eight chickens or bantams and is built with a galvanised metal draw for easy cleaning and a lever to close the indoor roosting area. Two egg laying boxes are also set aside from the indoor area. Information: 01908 511 619 or

Holistic Health Food for Dogs

The only dog food to offer • Natural control of worms fleas and ticks* • Fresh meat ≈ 64.4% • Herbal vitamins and minerals

Want to know more? Come and see us at

PATS Sandown March 22nd – 23rd Stand A10

*As part of an holistic diet and lifestyle

Green Dog Food

Dalton House • 60 Windsor Avenue Wimbledon • London • SW19 2RR 0203 174 0093


Taking stock


Natural Pet Products Natural Pet Products has developed a supplement derived from wild Alaskan salmon that is easily added daily to a cat’s or dog’s food. Grizzly Salmon Oil is a natural way to protect and support the health of dogs and cats with endless benefits, from balancing omega 3/6 fatty acids (critical for good health) to supporting general vitality, shiny coats and improving fitness and energy levels. Grizzly Salmon Oil is derived from pure sources with minimal contamination. Information: 01926 311 514 or


Gaia Biological Gaia Biological is a specialist entomological livestock wholesaler supplying retailers and other exotic pet wholesalers with tarantulas and other pet bugs. Gaia Biological offers the largest range of species and captivebred stock with an emphasis on suitable pet species. Full support and advice is available on stocking tarantulas and for a minimal surcharge the company can supply suitable housing with spiders to make stocking them easy for retailers.


Dicksons Just Delicious Dicksons Just Delicious has replaced the Berrimans range but still contains all the same active ingredients. The quality feed is available in chicken and rice in three pack sizes – two kilograms; 7.5 kilograms and 12 kilograms for puppies, adult and senior dogs. The food contains the bio-probiotic Vetoxan, which is said to be highly effective in helping to eliminate the causes of digestive upsets in dogs and also assists in maximising the availability of nutrients. Ingredients such as glucosamine, chondroitin sulphate and MSM provide support for a dog’s joints and cartilage, and vitamins A, C and E improve the immune system. The addition of omega 6 and 3 also helps to maintain a glossy coat and healthy skin. New flavours will be added to the range in due course. Information: 01782 212 874 or

Information: 01239 613 347


Vitalin Pet Food Vitalin Life Stage products are nutritionally balanced, hypo-allergenic diets that are manufactured using only high quality ingredients. The Vitalin Life Stage products are specifically formulated to promote overall well-being while targeting the needs of each development stage. Information: 01765 605 156 or


KONG Company Ltd KONG has announced the launch of KONG Genius, the newest interactive treat-dispensing dog toy. Genius is available in two interlinking shapes – Leo and Mike – and is designed to stimulate a dog’s curiosity and also hold its attention. They are great for combating boredom as they can be stuffed with KONG Stuff ’N Snacks and kibble and used as a treat dispenser or even as a feeder as they can hold a full meal of dry food. Genius is perfect used on its own or connected together for an increased challenge. Genius is available in small, large and extra large and four vibrant colours – orange, pink, blue and purple. Information: 01308 869 000 or


Pet Food UK If you haven’t tried Barking Heads and Meowing Heads from Pet Food UK yet, why not drop by at PATS to meet the family and pick up a sample. This award-winning, ultra-premium, all-natural pet food currently provides for puppies, adult dogs, senior dogs and cats – and the company will be extending the range with four new foods very soon. Catch up with Barking/Meowing Heads at stand B4 at Sandown and F1 at Harrogate. Information: 01442 419 786 or

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Working dog feeds

Sustaining the canine athlete Working dogs have nutritional requirements above and beyond those of the humble family pet. Sarah Jacotine reports on the range of feeds available for retailers and the importance of making owners aware of their animals’ highly specialised needs


ome dogs make a good living being useful to humans; fulfilling a role that makes them indispensable and offering their owners far more than unconditional affection. A working canine possesses the ability to learn and perform tasks to assist humans, usually a task that we don’t even have the capacity for. Working dogs originated from selective breeding of the crème de la crème of the species and whether they are hunting or herding, guiding or protecting, aiding or alerting, these dogs have needs far beyond those of an ordinary pet. Considering the importance that a working dog has, optimum nutrition is the foundation upon which an excellent working relationship can be built. A dog that is not receiving ideal nutrition will be unable to perform adequately. “You wouldn’t run a marathon on a chocolate bar, as it only offers short-term energy, and the same can be applied to working dogs,” explains Greg Panther, managing director of Skinner’s, a pet food company supplying to gundog owners, police forces and husky racing teams. He adds: “They need high quality foods to maintain concentration levels and stamina throughout their working day, in order for them to

best perform and maintain overall health. Like human athletes, they require high energy and protein input for muscle development and stamina, while those undertaking light exercise need lower energy and protein input to maintain a healthy condition.” In terms of specific nutritional needs, the animal’s function and working conditions are key. Jonathan Niccol, veterinary surgeon at Companion Care in Worcester was formerly responsible for treating Unit’s 2 and 5 of the Metropolitan Police dog section as well as some Transport Police dogs. He says: “Working dogs utilise more energy than pets but it depends on training, work and the amount of rest needed. A greyhound’s rapid energy use, for example, is different to a guide dog out with its owner all day or a husky pulling a sled. Weather conditions are also important – a husky needs to use energy to stay warm as well as for work.” When it comes to maintaining condition, protein is the key component. Norwich-based dog trainer and behaviourist Helen Withey says: “Athletic working dogs need a high quality, protein-rich diet and very little carbohydrate in order to help keep them in peak physical fitness. However, requirements depend on the dog’s age and fitness, and the length of time it is working.” Dog owner Richard Byrne has seen the impact of a high protein diet first-hand in his three gun dogs. He says: “Whereas carbohydrates make them sluggish, a protein diet builds muscles and strength, which you can see in my dogs’ muscular builds, especially across the chest.” When it comes to the sale of dog feeds, retailers should highlight the importance of a specialised diet to owners of working dogs, who may not realise that a different lifestyle requires a different diet to companion canines. Skinner’s produces a comprehensive range

Working dog feeds

Image: Nick Ridley

of working dog foods under the brand name Field & Trial, which was first launched in the 1990s. Greg Panther explains: “The range includes three hypoallergenic foods for dogs with food sensitivities and offers a variety of protein levels, so you can feed the correct food according to the individual dog’s requirements. We understand the importance of feeding high quality ingredients using a single meat protein source.” Demonstrating how specialist working dogs’ food options can be, Skinner’s has recently launched Field & Trial Turkey & Rice plus joint aid for dogs. “This food is completely hypo-allergenic and is the only dog food to contain the high quality, branded mobility supplement ‘joint aid for dogs,” adds Greg. Besides providing a diet rich in protein, supplements are beneficial in keeping the dog healthy. Retailers have to reinforce to customers the differences in a pet’s needs and a working dog’s needs – the latter will thrive on supplements that the former may find surplus to requirements. Jonathan Niccol’s experience with police dogs has shown that hard work causes the body to be put under stress. He says: “As well as needing a more energy-dense diet, working dogs may need to eat for a longer period of time. Providing a good antioxidant level combats free oxygen radicals released during exercise stress – omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, l-carnitine and cysteine are useful. Post-exercise electrolyte replacement can also help.” Owners of working dogs should never forget that timing is everything, depending on the animal’s purpose. Working dogs should never be fed a full meal prior to work, but instead given a small meal two to four hours before. Jonathan adds: “The main meal should be at least an hour after exercise and only when the dog is correctly hydrated.” Hamish Melvin, a former police dog trainer, also stresses the importance of timing: “Working dogs shouldn’t be fed

immediately before or after work, or during the heat of the day, if it’s summer. In the main, a balanced ration to provide energy for work, repair and maintain tissues and organs, and sustain the healthy processes such as growth, digestion and resistance to diseases is ideal.” While it’s not unusual for pet dogs to devour a family’s leftovers, there’s no place for it in the working dogs’ lifestyle. It can have bad effects and food flavoured with salt, as is often the case with human food, would cause hydration concerns. After all, it’s not ideal for a dog that’s relied upon to fall ill and the dog wouldn’t respond well to downtime, as working canines prefer to be occupied. Sarah Miller is a dog care and welfare manager for the Guide Dogs training centre in Leamington Spa. She says: “We discourage the feeding of titbits, human food and uncooked meat. If a guide dog cannot work due to ill health, the owner is left using an alternative form of mobility such as a long cane.” Overall, working dog food needs to be easily digestible and energy-dense, leaving the dog alert, focused and in the peak of health. Supplements are advisable and the quality of the meals is paramount. Retailers should urge owners to take an intelligent approach to the feeding of their dogs and are well placed to say that humans wouldn’t run a marathon without training and the right diet, so owners shouldn’t expect it of their canine athletes.

Supplier listing Arden Grange: Bestpets: Copdock Mill: Dicksons Hanley Ltd: Dodson and Horrell: GWF Nutrition: James Wellbeloved: Lily’s Kitchen: Nestle Purina: Pinetree Pet Products: Skinner’s Dog Food: Vitalin Pet Food: Wagg:


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long , long way A 15kg of Burns real food feeds an average size dog* for up to 100 days. That’s more than 30 days longer than many competing brands! High quality ingredients and controlled levels of protein mean our daily feeding amounts are much lower and therefore cheaper than many other leading brands. To find out how economical feeding Burns could be for your dog visit *Based on a 15kg dog

BURNS developed by a veterinary surgeon

General Enquiries 0800 008 69 20

Come and say “hello” at PATS 2011 (Harrogate 5th - 6th April)

® Reg. Trademark of Société des Produits Nestlé S.A. *2011 Total spend subject to change **Nestlé Purina study: Chicory addition in dog dry food proven to increase bifidobacteria.

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New Harringtons treats. Demand is going to be bigger than you think.

There’s no question. Dogs can’t get enough of new Harringtons treats. But then neither can their owners. With no artificial colours or flavours and only natural, oven baked ingredients, everything’s premium, except the price. That’s a big reason to expect big demand.



Food for thought looks at the technological advances in the manufacture of pet foods, with more and more brands offering proven health benefits for pets

Michael Bellingham


f there was ever any doubt about the science behind pet nutrition, a meeting of minds in Cambridge last September dispelled this. Under the banner Pet Nutrition – Art or Science, the Waltham International Sciences Symposium brought together researchers, vets and nutritionists from academia, as well as the pet food industry, to discuss some of the latest advancements in the field of pet nutrition. Topics ranged from the effect of gut bacteria on diet and enhancing a cat’s immune system to pet food safety. Small animal nutrition is a fast-moving science developing all the time and every day there’s an enhancement brought to products. As companies become aware of additional benefits, they do what they can to add them to products. It’s no longer enough just to meet the nutritional requirements of cats and dogs – it’s now about the ‘extras’. Our market research suggests that advanced nutrition is a persistent trend driving pet food purchases. There has been strong growth in life-stage, lifestyle and other advanced nutrition products. Even during these challenging economic times, the demand for super premium pet foods has continued. Trends and developments in the pet food market closely mirror those in the human food arena. For instance, the use of pre-biotics and pro-biotics is now commonplace in human food for gut health, and more recently we have seen how these can be beneficial in pet food formulation. It is not just about new ingredients, knowledge of nutritional requirements and pet food manufacturers’ expertise in diet formulation have also progressed considerably. For instance, nutrition plays an important role in the correct functioning of the immune system. For decades it has been known that a deficiency in certain nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C and particularly zinc and some other trace

elements, will impair the immune response of animals and humans. Avoiding such deficiencies is the task of every manufacturer by ensuring their products contain optimal nutrient levels based on their knowledge and the recommended levels. However, increasing the intake of certain nutrients such as vitamin E above the levels recommended to meet the nutritional requirements can further support the immune system in a way that an animal reacts better to challenges from its environment. Some of the latest scientific advancements benefiting pet foods have included the use of essential fatty acids, particularly the omega 3 fatty acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and ingredients such as chondroitin and glucosamine which have been shown to help maintain mobility. This may be beneficial for pets with, or at risk of developing osteoarthritis. Risk factors include age, obesity, very active lifestyle or an existing joint injury. Another essential fatty acid – DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) – supports the development of the retina in the eye and brain tissue, particularly important in growing animals. Taurine, as well as being essential for cats, can be added to dog food diets to help support heart function. While recent research has shown that certain forms of fibre can help to reduce the risk of gastro-intestinal hair balls in cats, which has led to some diets focusing on this aspect. Pet owners can buy pet foods safe in the knowledge that there are strict rules in place to ensure that any claims such as ‘contains omega 3 fatty acids to maintain healthy joints’ are substantiated with the relevant science. Regulations in this area are further supported by an industry code of practice. So it seems that in the constantly evolving world of pet food manufacturing, many products are doing exactly what they say on the tin and specialist pet retailers are ideally positioned to guide owners on these highly beneficial foods.

About the PFMA The Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association is the principal trade body representing the UK pet food industry; a key focus of activity is to promote animal welfare and responsible pet ownership. Its 60 members account for over 90 per cent of the market and produce a wide range of products for cats, dogs, rabbits and other pet animals. To find out more, please visit:

Turke y & Rice Hypoallergenic exclusively formulated to include

NEW Field & Trial Turkey & Rice has been specially formulated to be sensitive on a dog’s digestion. It is the only dog food to contain joint aid for dogs which can help maintain healthy joints and flexibility of movement throughout the life of a dog.



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Feeding fibrevores

The f force

Many small pets are being fed incorrectly, which is having a detrimental effect on their lives. Naomi Chatterley marketing manager of Burgess Pet Care looks at the importance of fibre and how retailers can offer key advice to customers on the specific dietary needs of the fibrevore


abbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas and degus reside in over two million households across the UK. Outwardly these small animals are poles apart, differing in size, variety, communication methods, housing requirements, behaviour, sociability and even their countries of origin. Yet these pets do have one very important requirement in common: their sole survival, both physically and mentally, is completely reliant on the need for extremely high levels of fibre in their diet. As a result the term fibrevore now replaces herbivore in classifying the dietary requirements of these types of pets.

Fibre Fit

Vets report that many fibrevores seen in practice have health problems directly related to a lack of fibre in their diet. These include constipation, overgrown teeth, obesity, behavioural problems and, most worryingly, a significant shortening of their lifespan. The average rabbit doesn’t make it beyond three or four years of age when they should be living 10 years or more, while chinchillas should be living upwards of 12 years old. However, the good news is that many of these problems are easily prevented if pet owners understand a bit more about what their fibrevore should be eating and why.

Wild At Heart

It all goes back to the fibrevore’s natural habitat. Consider a day in the life of a wild rabbit, guinea pig, chinchilla or degu. As ground feeders, they constantly nibble on grasses, hay, herbs and bark native to their country of origin. Up to 70 per cent of their time is spent foraging for these sources of fibre. They don’t pick fruit off trees and they wouldn’t go around digging up carrots or other root vegetables. Their territories are vast (around 30 tennis courts, in the case of rabbits) meaning they get a lot of exercise every day foraging for food across this area. Pet fibrevores are no different from their wild cousins in terms of their reliance on fibre. It dominates every aspect of their physiology and psychology including digestive, dental and emotional health.

On the move

A fibrevore’s guts must always be in motion. This is one reason why they constantly nibble on hay and bark. Indigestible fibre keeps the gut moving along nicely (in the same way bran flakes work for humans) and lack of this fibre can lead to gut stasis or constipation. If the fibrevore doesn’t eat and the gut stops, this can prove fatal. Indigestible fibre that has passed through the gut is expelled as the hard, dry droppings that owners are used to seeing when cleaning out the litter trays of their pets.

Friendly Bacteria

Fibrevores must also maintain the right balance of friendly bacteria in their gut. The smaller, juicier fibre particles from grass and hay known as digestible fibre are sent to the rabbit’s caecum or appendix. Here, bacteria breaks down digestible fibre into volatile fatty acids, more bacteria and vitamins – a process known as fermentation.

Feeding fibrevores

At certain times of day the caecum expels this mucus-covered fermented soup as clumps of tiny, sticky droppings called caecotrophs, which resemble a bunch of grapes. These contain lots of nutrients rather like the ‘yakult’ of the fibrevore world. The fibrevore then eats the caecotrophs straight from their bottom – which many owners mistake as cleaning behaviour. Once ingested, the stomach acid dissolves the mucus around these caecotrophs and then kills the bacteria, so the fibrevore can digest all the remaining products and nutrients. This whole cycle is perfectly balanced and dependent on the animal getting all the digestible fibre it needs. Without this, the cycle is upset and can cause conditions such as bloating and anorexia, which are just as dangerous as constipation.

Dental health

Nibbling hay and bark all day in the wild has an additional benefit for the fibrevore. Their teeth constantly grow (up to 12 centimetres in a year) and so have to be worn down, otherwise teeth get too long and it becomes painful to eat. Your customer needs to ensure the fibrevore has a constant supply of good quality hay that is rich in calcium, such as Timothy Hay. The nibbling/grinding action when eating the hay wears the teeth down and the calcium helps to keep teeth and jaw structure strong.

Emotional Health

Foraging for hay, grass and herbs is what keeps the fibrevore busy and occupied in the wild and this is no different for our domestic pets. It must get very boring sitting in a hutch for most of the day, so giving fibrevores something to do prevents them developing behavioural problems such as fur-plucking, selfharming or aggression. Hiding hay and healthy snacks around their homes, as well as occasional greens for variety and additional vitamins, encourages fibrevores to work a bit harder for their food keeping them occupied and exercised. The best greens to feed are spinach, kale or even dandelion leaves. Lettuce should be avoided as it is high in water which fills up the fibrevore and stops it eating the essential fibre it should have for digestive, dental and emotional health. Fibre can be given creatively by stuffing willow balls and treat dispensers with hay and herbs to make it more challenging for the fibrevore to access its food. Hay racks ensure the food stays off the floor as once it is trampled and soiled on the ground, a fibrevore is unlikely to eat it.

Selective Eaters

Fibrevores do not have the ability to vomit. This means in the wild they have to ensure what they eat isn’t poisonous, as they have no way of getting it out of their system. They are therefore extremely sensitive to taste and smell, having almost twice as many taste buds

as the average human. Unfortunately, this means they can be very picky eaters. Historically, fibrevore foods were mostly available as a muesli-style mix, labelled as complete foods without any reference to the need for additional hay or grass. The problem with these foods is that the fibrevore will pick out the bits they like best, which are usually high in starch and sugar, and leave the rest – much like children who choose sweeties over vegetables. Too much starch and sugar can change the acidity of a fibrevore’s gut prompting a change in the bacteria needed to break down their natural fibre diet, resulting in conditions such as bloating and sticky bottom. To compound this, the fibrevore tends to leave the healthier bits of the muesli mix because they taste too strongly of minerals. All in all, selective eating causes an imbalanced diet and that is why an extruded nugget is better for preventing this kind of behaviour in the pet. Finally, fibrevores should always have a fresh supply of water via a gravity water bottle. Chinchillas are prone to chewing holes in plastic water bottles, so it is a good idea to site their bottles in specially-designed wire mesh holders at a 45 degree angle away from the side of their cage.

The High Fibre Retailer Opportunity

Taking the time to understand why high fibre diets are so important to rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas and degus provides the specialist retailer with a golden opportunity. Stocking the right products for fibrevores is the key to success. For example, why not display hay as an essential food separate to the bedding section? Encourage fibrevore owners to buy an extruded nugget food to prevent selective feeding and promote healthy snacks and feeding accessories to make feeding time more interesting. Retailers should ensure staff are well-trained on these complex little pets so they can recommend the right products – being able to demonstrate expertise is essential. In a recent survey, 95 per cent of fibrevore owners said that when empowered with choice, knowledge and information, they would willingly up-trade and buy a complementary range of food and would even spend more on a healthier option.* In short, properly understanding the needs of the pet fibrevore will result in long-term, positive outcomes for all involved with better turnover and profit for the retailer and healthier, happier pets for owners.


Burgess Pet Care, a leading pet food manufacturer based in Yorkshire, is a company of pet lovers and owners committed to making the lives of pets better, through great food that’s really healthy and delicious. It is equally committed to helping and supporting rescue centres and encouraging responsible pet ownership through education. For more information please call Naomi Chatterley on 01405 863 646 or email naomi.chatterley@

*Survey carried out by Burgess Pet Care across 4,000 fibrevore owners

Supplier Listing Alf Ltd: • Batleys: Burgess Pet Care: Supreme Pet Foods Ltd: Vital Pet Products: • Wagg:

And d nd out about... • • • •

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SPECIAL OFFER: In March and April, while stocks last, there is a 15% discount off selected items from our rodent range. This range includes nutritious treats, fun and practical housing, carriers, food bowls and pens. These quality products are becoming very popular.

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are exhibiting at the PATS Sandown and Harrogate. We will be displaying our top quality Karlie leather collars and leads, Liberta cages, and a selection of products from the Montana, Wallace and Jones and Karlie ranges. We hope to see you there.

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Fish tank maintenance

A clean sweep shows that by educating customers on fish tank maintenance, aquatic retailers can encourage customer loyalty and generate sales

Tim Hayes


egular maintenance is central to the longterm success of any aquarium, whether it is a small tank containing a couple of goldfish or a full-blown, top-of-the-range reef system. Drawing your customers’ attention to the essential maintenance tasks they should regularly carry out is one of the many ways an aquatic shop can generate a consistent stream of revenue. The amount of revenue you actually make depends on the amount of work you put into selling your customer on the importance of maintenance. I believe that encouraging your customer to properly look after their aquarium should bring you multiple benefits. You’ll gain in the short-term by selling a greater number of products, but more importantly you will retain that customer long-term, selling to them for years to come. For all retailers, I’d suggest giving all your customers a chart outlining the various maintenance tasks they should be carrying out. Hopefully, this should result in the customer making more visits to your shop to buy maintenance-related products, along with other incidental impulse purchases or upgrades. For the more entrepreneurial retailer, particularly one with good computer skills, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t emulate the better car dealers who supply their customers with reminders of upcoming services or MOTs. You know who your regular customers are when you sell them an item that needs regular replacement such as lamps, RO membranes and pre-filters, CO2 refills or UV lamps. Record that sale on a database and then send out an email reminder when that item next becomes due for replacement.

Basic maintenance for freshwater tanks

The basic maintenance for freshwater aquariums – both coldwater and tropical – consists of regular water

changes, keeping the front viewing pane clean, changing filter media, replacing lamps and maintaining pumps. • Water changes require syphoning equipment such as a gravel cleaner to facilitate the removal of detritus, along with a suitable water conditioner to neutralise heavy metals, chlorine and chloramines present in tap water. • Clean the glass with a hand scraper or a cleaning magnet. • Filtration media needs to be regularly replaced, whether it’s in a dedicated in-tank filter or in an external filter. Filter pads for mechanical filtration can only be backwashed so many times before they need replacing. Chemical filtration media such as carbon needs to be replaced when it becomes exhausted. • Lamps should be replaced at least yearly, preferably more frequently if the aquarium features plants. • Water pumps should be stripped and cleaned to ensure smooth running, so offer your customer a set of cleaning brushes for this task. Air pumps need maintenance too, and most manufacturers offer dedicated spares kits for these. Accessories such as airstones require periodic replacement as they become clogged, or start to break down. • Aquariums that have been running for a year or more may benefit from the occasional dose of heterotrophic bacteria to break down organic detritus that has accumulated over time.

Maintenance of saltwater tanks

Much of the required maintenance of reef aquariums and fish-only saltwater aquariums is similar to that of freshwater, but there are a few differences. • Water changes for saltwater aquariums generally require the use of reverse osmosis (RO) water – to limit the addition of undesirable nutrients – and a good artificial salt mix. • If the customer is generating their own RO water, they need to regularly replace components of their RO system, membrane, pre-filter and carbon filter. The replacement time for these components will vary according to the volume of water being filtered and the condition of the local water supply. • Your customer can clean the glass with a hand scraper or a cleaning magnet, but I would

Fish tank maintenance

• •

recommend bladed cleaners are used rather than pads, as fine coral sand can be picked up on the pad and scratch the front glass. In addition to filter pads for mechanical filtration and carbon, most saltwater aquariums also use a phosphate removal media in an effort to limit the unwanted nutrients, phosphates and silicates. The regular replacement of lamps is of particular importance in the reef aquarium because of corals requirement for high levels of lighting. More lamps are employed to produce the levels of lighting required. Pumps need to be periodically cleaned. This can be a tougher job than with freshwater tanks, owing to the deposit of calcium carbonate on exposed surfaces which also needs to be removed. Most marine aquariums include an additional item of equipment that’s not used in freshwater – the protein skimmer, which also requires maintenance. The skimmer pump will need cleaning, as will the reaction chamber and collection cup. Older-style, air-driven skimmers need the wooden air diffuser regularly replacing as they swell up over time, reducing the airflow. Reef aquariums may include a CO2 calcium reactor to maintain the correct levels of calcium and carbonates for coral growth. The reactor pump will need cleaning and the CO2 bottle will need periodic refilling, along with replenishment of the calcium carbonate media. UV sterilisers need to be cleaned every three months, with the UV tube being replaced every six months to maintain its effectiveness. Reef aquariums that have been running for a year or more can suffer from an accumulation of organic detritus, resulting in outbreaks of pest algae and cyanobacteria. These can benefit from the occasional dose of heterotrophic bacteria to break down organic detritus that has accumulated over time. Livestock

Water parameters

Protein skimmer Pumps and pipe work Lighting Miscellaneous

Calcium reactor

Daily Feed & observe


Temperature Supplement calcium, carbon, and magnesium

Check salinity & pH

Empty skimmer cup Check all pumps are operational


Additional products

In addition to the products already listed, you should also consider marketing test kits when promoting maintenance to your customers. For the freshwater customer, recommend pH, ammonia and nitrite test kits. For the reef aquarium customer, you can add nitrate, phosphate, calcium and alkalinity test kits. Considering the higher investment in a reef aquarium, you can also look at recommending electronic monitoring of some of these parameters.

On a final note

Customer retention is a big problem for the aquatics industry, with few customers staying in the hobby long-term. By educating your customers about maintenance, you increase their chances of success with their aquariums and increase your chances of keeping them. A customer with a successful, wellmaintained aquarium is a happy customer who may go on to upgrade to a larger aquarium, or perhaps invest in additional ones – all to your benefit, in return for that little extra work. Monthly Frag or thin out corals as needed

Partial water Measure and record change calcium, dKH, & magnesium Check nitrates and phosphates Clean skimmer Check venturi is reaction tube clear of salt build-up

Refill auto top- Clean away up reservoir salt creep Clean front glass

Check drip rate/ Check bubble rate pressure gauges

Clean cover glass Replace carbon and phosphate removal media Clean and re-calibrate probes


Strip and clean skimmer pumps Strip and clean pumps in rotation Clean UV sleeves and lamps

Refill CO2 bottle

Half-yearly Re-stock invertebrate herbivores as required


As required Remove any dead animal immediately

Clean inside of pipe work Replace UV lamps Clean away any calcium build up on equipment

Replace lamps Replace RO Replace membrane probes at and filters manufacturer’s suggested interval Replace calcium carbonate media

Suggested Maintenance Schedule This table illustrates the tasks to be attended to at certain intervals; the requirement to carry out these tasks will vary from tank to tank according to bio-load and other variables. Actions need to be fine-tuned to suit the individual reef ’s requirements.




The history of the cat

Cats are one of the world’s most popular pets with 500 million kept worldwide. Holly Mash explores their history from being revered as gods in ancient Egypt and persecuted in the middle ages, to their suitability in today’s modern lifestyles


he domestic cat’s ancestors can be traced back to a weasel-like creature called a miacis, some 50 million years ago. Paleontologists agree that the descendants of the miacis evolved into three distinct groups around a million years ago: the big cats (lions and tigers), the cheetahs and the small cats (ocelots, bobcats, lynxes and wildcats).

Their amazing journey from wild cat in ancient Egypt to the domesticated animal we share our homes with today, can be traced back to between 5,000 and 8,000 years ago. Genetic studies have revealed that today’s domestic cats are most likely to be descendants of a Middle Eastern wildcat, Felis sylvestris, which literally means ‘cat of the woods.’


Cats were becoming domesticated at the same time as man was establishing his first settlements. As man settled and started to grow crops, he also had to store surplus grain. This is how the African wildcat became quite an asset in ancient Egypt, as it hunted the rats and snakes that feasted in the grain stores. Thus, this became the story of feline domestication, as the wildcats frequented the grain stores and made themselves useful to man. It proved a fair exchange – pest control for food and shelter.


alongside their owners and cat funerals were numerous. There is archeological evidence of 300,000 mummified cats in an Egyptian cemetery, along with mummified mice for the afterlife. Cats of royalty were believed to have worn golden jewellery and were allowed to eat from their owner’s plate. Cats were highly valued animals for pets, vermin control and also as healers, with one ancient Egyptian medical text stating that a purring cat would induce a more restful and tranquil nights sleep.

Medieval superstition

Although cats have been worshipped, they have also famously been persecuted especially in Europe during the middle ages. Some believe that it was due to their nocturnal habits, reflective glowing eyes, night vision and aloof and independent nature, that led people to believe they were in league with the devil. Black cats were believed to be witches in disguise and many were killed in an effort to ward off evil spirits. Cats were linked to paganism and black magic and it was decreed that all cats and cat lovers should be burnt! By the end of the 14th century the house cat had almost disappeared. However, the persecution of the cat has been linked to the rapid spread of plagues, and the ‘black death’, as fewer cats meant more rats and more rats meant more disease. Eventually it was the cat’s keen hunting skills that helped bring an end to these epidemics, so they were back in favour.

Myth and Legend

Over the next 2,000 years, the process of domestication evolved and cats became tamer as their association with man developed and grew. Cats soon spread across the globe, often taken on sea voyages by sailors and explorers to control rodents on board ship. Indeed, having a cat aboard was considered lucky and fishermen’s wives would keep a black cat at home to prevent disaster at sea.

Worship in ancient Egypt

It didn’t take long before these newly tamed wildcats were firm favourites in the settlements of the ancient Egyptians and they soon became far more than mere rat catchers. Artifacts from the time show us that in the first millennium BC, cats were considered a sacred animal and worshipped as gods. Egyptian goddess of joy and happiness, Bastet, had the head of a cat and was believed to be their protector. Cats called mau in ancient Egypt, were often mummified and buried

Throughout history we have both revered and worshipped cats as gods, but also feared and persecuted cats as satanic symbols. Black cats are a good illustration of this diversity, being seen as bad omens everywhere except here in Britain where they are a symbol of the exact opposite! Here, a black cat crossing one’s path is seen as good luck, whereas in other parts of the world this can even be seen as a sign of impending death! It is not known how or where the myths that surround black cats in particular originated. It wasn’t only in ancient Egypt that cats were worshipped; they have been part of myths and legends all over the world. In Japan, the manekineko or ‘good fortune cat’ with its beckoning paw, is still a well-known talisman of good luck today and is present in many shops as a sign of fortuitous business. In Norse mythology the goddess of fertility, Freya, rode a chariot pulled by two white cats. Superstition still surrounds cats and in the Netherlands the story goes that if a family is having a private talk, cats are not allowed in the room for fear that they will spread gossip all over town.

Popular pet

Our modern worship of the cat began with the ‘cat fanciers’ of Victorian times. Cats began to be admired and pedigree cats were bred for their looks, rather than just their mousing ability. There are now over 100 registered breeds of domestic cat in the UK; and from the short to the long-coated or the tabby to the lilac, there is surely a cat to suit everyone. Finally, as writer Ellen Perry Berkely says: “As every cat owner knows, nobody owns a cat”, which just about sums up the pet owners relationship with these incredible feline friends.


Major lands in the UK Dapper, has added the brilliant new Major Dog product range to its portfolio of clever and practical pet products. Robust, safe and great fun, the Major range guarantees to get the dog’s attention and thereby help make training and control much easier. Available in a range of colours and styles, Major is already making a huge impact, so why not make a Major change for your customers this year?

T: 01992 524077 E: W:

PATS S andow n Booth No: G 1 PATS H arrog ate Booth No: B 18

How to say thank you in pet speak Owners love to reward their pets for the pleasure they bring. That’s why PetSafe® have extended their range of products to include two new categories: Health & Wellness and Play & Challenge. From drinking fountains to help keep pets healthy and hydrated, to treat dispensing

3233 PS_PetGazette Ad 187x130 v2.indd 1

toys to encourage play and exploration and of course each comes with our renowned quality, warranties and support. For more information visit us at PATS or call us on 01257 240070.

16/2/11 16:43:07



The best things come in small packages Easy to handle and care for, the domesticated mouse has been prized as a pet for hundreds of years. Nick Mays looks at the wide range of varieties available and the products pet owners will need when introducing them to their homes


here’s something about mice – people either love them or loathe them. Whatever the personal feelings about them, they’ve got to be admired for their tenacity. These small rodents have proved themselves extremely successful – no mean feat for a scavenging species. Mus musculus, the house mouse, originated in Asia and quickly spread out and colonised the world alongside man.

Prized Pets

Quite apart from all of this, domestic – or fancy – mice make excellent pets for young and old alike, and were among the first small livestock to be domesticated as pets, probably due to their size and ease of handling. Ancient woodcuts and illustrations from the royal palaces of China and Japan show what are obviously distinctly marked varieties of fancy mice being handled by children. Mice are also prized as exhibition animals and are available in a huge range of colours and markings. The first mouse show was held in Oxford in 1892

and the National Mouse Club, which was founded in 1895 is still going strong today. There are a number of regional and local mouse clubs although these tend to cater for the more serious fancier, rather than the pet mouse keeper. True, mice may not be the most interesting of pets compared to a gerbil or a rat, which are much more interactive with their owners but they are among the cheapest and easiest to keep, which is always a good selling point.


Being gregarious animals, mice like the company of their own kind. To this end, a pair of mice is the perfect arrangement. However, mice are also incredibly prolific, so assuming your customer doesn’t want wall-to-wall baby mice, it is best they opt for a single sex pair. Females or does are the best pairing. Males or bucks will live together quite amicably, but their urine contains a particularly strong odour which is not present to the same degree in does.



There are many perfectly suitable cages available for mice in the pet trade. These vary in design between the standard plastic bottom/wire canopy affair to metal and glass constructions, with numerous ladders and pathways leading to upper levels. The ideal size of cage for a pair of mice should measure 30 by 20 by 20 centimetres (12 by 8 by 8 inches). Mice are easily satisfied creatures, but they do enjoy climbing and taking a spin on an exercise wheel. The solid variety of wheel is preferable to the open-spoked variety, which can trap the tail and cause injury. Wood shavings or sawdust are the best substrate for the floor of the cage. Hay is the best bedding, as the mice will also eat this and it provides essential roughage in their diet. However, shredded paper and ‘tea bag’ type bedding are also acceptable. Cardboard tubes make fun tunnels for the mice to run through and also give them something to chew on, as, being rodents, they have a natural tendency to gnaw. Of course, there are plenty of useful toys and treats for small rodents, which can be stocked and offered to the potential mouse owner.


Mice are very easy and cheap to feed and their staple diet should consist of mixed corn, flaked maize, crushed dried peas, etc. Avoid recommending mixes that contain too many protein-rich sunflower seeds and peanuts, as these can cause skin sores. There are plenty of well-balanced dry food diets available for mice nowadays. Vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage and carrot, along with fruits such as apples and grapes may be given as a supplement to the main diet every third day or so. A few table scraps may also be given in moderation, potatoes and spaghetti being especially welcomed. Another useful supplement is brown bread and milk once a week, which is especially nutritious for young mice and helpful for the development of strong bones. Mice should be fed once a day and all uneaten food should be removed from the cage daily at each feeding time. Obesity is often a problem in mice, so care must be taken not to allow them to over-indulge. Fresh drinking water should always be available and provided via a gravity water bottle.

Daily Care

When first purchased, mice are prone to be a little nervous. Advise the buyer to let them get used to their new home for a couple of days, then start offering them titbits and stroking them gently.

Handling mice is easy. They may be gently lifted by the tail, although the owner must remember to grasp the root, not the tip. Transfer the mouse to the forearm where it will either sit happily or scamper up to the shoulder. When tame, mice can be allowed to run free for a few minutes each day. Owners must remember to supervise them carefully and ensure they don’t escape into any holes or chew electrical wires – this is something their wild cousins are very good at! Health-wise, mice are pretty robust for such small animals. Their chief ailments are usually related to diet as they can be prone to diarrhoea, usually as a result of over-eating vegetables. This can usually be corrected by reducing the amount of vegetables in their diet. Older mice are susceptible to tumours and respiratory illnesses. The average life-span for a mouse is 18 months to two years.


In the 100-odd years since the formation of the National Mouse Club, many different varieties of fancy mice have been developed and official standards of excellence have been drawn up. Today, there are over 50 different varieties of fancy mice to tempt the would-be owner. Varieties include fawn, red, black, dove, Argente and silver, while the more exotic varieties include Dutch, rump white, variegated, broken marked, banded and Himalayan. Another popular group is the tan varieties where the mouse has a deep tan colour on its belly, which contrasts with a standard colour on the top half of the animal. Then, for coat variation, would-be owners can choose from rex and astrexes (curly-coated), longhaired and even long-haired astrex. Also, every variety can be bred with a satin coat, which shines like gloss. Naturally, cross-breeding turns up any number of mongrel varieties, which may not be suitable for showing, but are perfectly suitable as ordinary pets.

Further Information

National Mouse Club:

Supplier Listing Bestpets: Burgess Pet Care: Liberta UK Ltd: Vital Pet Products: Wagg:



The DOGGEE is a flexible , hollow ball on a keychain that can accommodate 15+ dog refuse bags. The spring lever keyring attaches to keys or leads and comes in six exciting colours. It is made in the UK of BSI compliant material. For further information visit: email: Office: 020 8616 2297

We will be at PATS Sandown Stand F3a

PATS Harrogate 2011

A snapshot of this year’s PATS 2011 PATS Harrogate is gearing up to showcase the brightest and best pet products and services from around the world. Here’s what you can expect to see at this year’s top trade event


ATS 2011 is getting ready to once again showcase the most exciting and up-to-the-minute offerings from the international pet trade. Since its launch just two years ago, PATS has turned into the most comprehensive UK pet trade show and hosts a wide range of pet products and services, from those with lucrative mass market appeal to those from the niche and specialist sectors, creating new profit opportunities for all. The PATS show in Harrogate, north Yorkshire, has seen a significant rise in popularity since its launch in 2009, with a 33 per cent increase in exhibitor stand numbers and 23 per cent increase in visitors. Harrogate has been described as ‘the spiritual home of the pet trade’ and during the first week of April, the historic town brings together one of the biggest gatherings of those working in the industry. This year, the show will move into Hall C as well as Halls A and B and the much-loved Royal Hall, allowing for more exhibitors and visitors than ever before. Of course, the main attraction of the show is discovering the newest and most exciting innovations within the industry. Organiser Annie Dyke explains: “Our PATS show features enable exhibitors to display to the pet trade what’s completely new; to show unique, new and existing products in action; and to educate, and stimulate ideas in an interactive setting.” Last year saw a significant trend in organic feed, as well as a rise in pet grooming accessories, which predicted the wants of the health and aesthetically-conscious consumer.” This year is all about boosting the interactive elements of the show. The Activity Point in Hall C is PATS’s newest innovation and has been created as an additional area in which exhibitors can show off their products in action. It will highlight products such as pet games and training collars, which can be fully appreciated by onlookers through a live demonstration. Exhibitors will be holding regular demonstrations at the Activity Point throughout both days.

Not only does the show provide an insight into future pet trends, but PATS also offers cutting-edge educational seminar programmes completely free of charge. Presented by industry experts, these seminars address the most topical and real issues facing the pet industry, including marketleading trends, practical advice and real-life solutions for immediate implementation in pet stores and businesses. A seminar highlight this year is the eagerly anticipated presentation given by Guy Blaskey who has recently been awarded membership of the Courvoisier Future 500 – the group of the 500 most pioneering entrepreneurs in the UK. Guy, who founded the natural dog supplements company Pooch & Mutt, will be presenting ‘Marketing for Survival: How shops and brands have succeeded against the superstores.’ Guy explains: “This talk is not anti-the pet superstores. What I want to point out is that the growth of the superstores

does not have to mean the decline of the independents. There are plenty of amazing examples of stores and brands in many sectors, that have used the threat of superstore expansion to develop, focus and grow their businesses.” Guy’s seminar will take place on Tuesday 5 April. Hosting over 130 pet industry exhibitors and anticipating the attendance of an increased number of visitors from the UK and overseas, PATS 2011 is a crucial event in the pet trade calendar and takes place at the Harrogate International Centre on Tuesday 5 April and Wednesday 6 April 2011. With free show entry, free parking, free catalogues and even free minibus transfers for rail travellers, the event is a hugely cost-effective means for retailers to discover the upcoming positive trends for the trade and the year ahead. For more information go to


Be part of a runaway success.

With a 30% year on year growth for the last 7 years, Wagg’s bounding performance shows no signs of stopping. Priced perfectly for customers and delivering proven results for retailers, put it on your shelves and watch it fly.

Stock up now by calling

01845 578 111 or email


Six of the best

Caring for your pond In the run-up to the water gardening season, Susannah Nichol looks at the best products to prepare ponds and care for their inhabitants


veryone knows that ponds can add great benefits to a garden, from decorative and tranquil features to environmental and ecological improvements. But for many customers who are interested in creating their very own pond, getting everything right can be a daunting challenge. However, now it is easier than ever to create and maintain the perfect pond, with innovative products and gadgets from a variety of aquatic suppliers. For pet retailers, the sheer variety of pond products and product add-ons can provide boundless revenue opportunities. These can include tools to build the pond itself; filters and pumps; feed for pond inhabitants; pond plants; and water test kits. Furthermore, with the growing numbers of water gardening enthusiasts who see pond keeping as an ecofriendly hobby, there are definite profits to be made. But what products are sure to be best sellers for the 2011 water gardening season? Pre-formed ponds are now proving popular with water gardeners as they can be easily transported, assembled and installed. These pre-formed ponds not only make things easier for potential pond owners, they are also easier for retailers to stock because of their compact size. More contemporary pre-formed ponds have been

designed to resemble the shape of a natural pond by incorporating natural edges with areas for bog zones and biotype edges for planting and encouraging wildlife to settle. This lets customers have their very own natural water oasis without a hint of artificiality. Water quality is the single most important factor in ensuring a healthy pond – particularly if it is stocked with fish. Pond fish require air to breath and will suffocate in poorly aerated water, especially if decaying plant matter consumes the dissolved oxygen. In particular, younger ponds are more prone to water quality issues, therefore it is essential for retailers to stock ‘water armoury’ products to fight disease and resolve the problems of water chemistry. An important component of ‘water armoury’ is a pond filter. Water gardening suppliers have developed an array of products for all pond sizes that are ready to use and compactly designed to subtly fit into any natural environment. A correctlysized filter will help keep ponds clean and inhabitants healthy, and is essential for pond owners who plan to keep a high concentration of fish. Of course, pond filters cannot replace an effective cleaning routine, but if used wisely, filters can prove

to be invaluable aids in providing a healthy and harmonious pond environment. Environmentally-friendly pond products are also proving to be very popular with the growing numbers of eco-conscious customers. Responding to this trend, aquatic suppliers offer pond filters that utilise ultraviolet lights to destroy green, water-borne algae that causes ponds to look murky and unattractive. As no chemicals are used to treat the algae, there is no danger of pollution or over-treatment of the water and sensitive plant and pond life is not affected. To attract fish keepers this season, retailers should stock the very latest in breakthrough fishfeed products. Not only do aquatic pet feeds offer all of the nutritional support for healthy long-term growth, but modern feeds now also utilise vitamins to enhance the true beauty and colour of ornamental koi pond fish and prevent common fish diseases. With the Pond Conservation’s recent announcement of the first-sighted frog spawn of the year in the UK, the aquatic gardening season is fast-approaching, and now is the best time for retailers to attract pond keepers with fresh ideas and breakthrough products. On the facing page are some of the best.

Six of the best


1. Midland Reefs The new Happy Pond kits from Italian pump manufacturer SICCE are the only flexible, pre-formed ponds available on the market. By combining the flexibility of rubber with the rigidity of plastic, SICCE has produced a pre-formed pond that is easy to stock, easy to transport, easy to assemble and install. A great garden pond for the average gardening enthusiast, Happy Pond provides a water feature without all the bother of becoming an aquatics expert. Sizes range from 120 litres up to 680 litres. The smallest size consists of the pond shell along with pump and fountain accessories/nozzles. Sizes two and three are larger and include a cascade with all pipework, while the two largest sizes include a cascade and a submersible light with three coloured lenses.

1 2

Midland Reefs • 01543 685 599 •

2. ALF Ltd Exclusive to ALF Ltd, Nishikoi fish foods are packaged in water-resistant jars that are 100 per cent re-sealable. They are also foil sealed to ensure food stays fresher for longer and retains vitamins. Nishikoi fish foods are developed by leading fish nutritionists to meet the specific needs of all types of pond fish and koi throughout the year. Available in a wide variety of pellets and sticks, Nishikoi foods contain the vitamins and minerals fish need to stay healthy. Contact ALF Ltd for 30 per cent extra deals (limited availability). Pallet POS is also available. ALF Ltd • • 0845 838 0981

3. Pettex


The Pettex aquatic pond food range is ideal for retailers looking to stock a combination feed that provides a balanced nutritional diet and healthy long-term growth. The Pettex range includes Natural Pond Sticks, Orange Koi Sticks, pool pellets, variety mix, flake and wheatgerm in both stick and pellet form. All of the Pettex range utilises top quality ingredients including stabilised vitamin C, which assists the fish’s natural defences against disease. Pettex Pool Pellets and Orange Koi Sticks benefit further from the inclusion of spirulina, a natural algae that is one of the most acclaimed colour enhancers for all ornamental fish and brings out their true beauty. Pettex • 0208 501 1033 •

4. Tropical Marine Centre Tropical Marine Centre’s professional UV pond clarifier, the Pro Clear Advantage is designed for larger ponds, particularly koi ponds, and can be surface, filter or wall mountable. There are two models in the range, both suitable for when high flow rates are needed – the Pro Clear Advantage UV30 (maximum flow rate 3,000 gallons or 13,500 litres per hour) and the Pro Clear Advantage UV55 (maximum flow rate 4,000 gallons or 18,000 litres per hour). These award-winning UV clarifiers are supplied with universal hosetails for flexible pipework and are quick and easy to maintain with replacement UV lamps and spares readily available.


Tropical Marine Centre • 01923 284 151 •

5. Natures Grub As well as offering an extensive range of dried insect-based koi and pond food, Norfolk-based company Natures Grub has a comprehensive range of koi and pond pellets, sticks and flakes. The lightweight and low waste pond sticks are available in natural, mixed and peaches and cream varieties and are offered in 2.5 litre, 5 litre and 10 litre buckets. Pond flake is offered in the same pack sizes and a pond mix containing flake and pellet is also available.


Natures Grub • 01485 517 177 •

6. Mars Fishcare With fish and the planet in mind, PondCare has developed a complete eco-friendly range of pond products with the launch of NutriPearls, the first environmentallysustainable pond food. NutriPearls not only offer superior nutrition but are also fishmeal free, instead using Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fish hydrolysate, supplemented with sustainably-farmed aquatic invertebrates and pea protein for a complete diet. The recipes have been developed for each type of pond fish – goldfish, all pond fish and koi – and include garlic, high levels of vitamins and a special prebiotic. PondCare treatment range works in harmony with the pond’s natural balance and has natural active ingredients that are safe for fish, pets, plants and wildlife. This complete range is an alternative to chemical-based treatments. Mars Fishcare •


Retail Stockists Wanted

Natures Grub Koi Treat Mix is a unique blend of Silkworm, Shrimp & Mealworms, perfectly formulated as a great treat for all koi & pond fish, high in protein & essential amino acids. Available in 200g, 500g & 1kg Buckets Also available Silkworm, River Shrimp, Koi Treat Mix

Tel: 01485 517177

Our future depends on the decisions we make today Be eco-friendly for your pond!

Good for Fish, Good for the Planet

NutriPearls™, the 1st environmentally sustainable pond food The world’s fish stocks are over-exploited. That is why PondCare® ingredients are carefully selected to minimise the impact on natural resources, made with fish proteins from a certified sustainable source, without fish meal and using GM-free ingredients. With your fish in mind, the recipe has also been developed with high quality ingredients to provide superior nutrition.

Supports fish immune systems

© Alternative Brand Communication - Photo Credit : Getty Images

NutriPearls™ stimulates pond fish health due to the high levels of vitamins, anti-oxidants, garlic extracts and pre-biotics in the recipe.

Meets specific nutritional needs of all pond fish The ingredients are carefully selected according to the needs of each type of pond fish: good growth, vitality, high digestibility, bright colours and better resistance to low temperatures.

Helps maintain water quality Due to their high digestibility and palatability, NutriPearls™ pellets produce little waste in the pond and thus help reduce algae growth.

For further information email us at or call on 018 9543 4463


Pond care

Problem aquatic plants With invasive pond plants a growing cause for concern, Dr Jeremy Biggs and Dr Angela Mary Julian of Pond Conservation offer advice on how to deal with different species


lants are essential for the wellbeing of ponds. They provide the ‘board and lodging’ for most pond animals and are part of the pond’s biodiversity in their own right. For your customer, knowing which plants they’ve got and whether they have the right amount isn’t always easy. However, from the point of view of pond wildlife, there’s no such thing as ‘too many’ plants. Plants grow, provide an excellent habitat for animals and removing them doesn’t necessarily improve the pond. The problem is mainly cosmetic – put simply, we like to look at open water and so we’ve long assumed this is the best for wildlife too. But, if your customer has got submerged plants growing through their pond they should probably count their blessings. Although most native submerged plants are sensitive and difficult to grow, there are a small number of tougher species which can become abundant, especially where the water is not too polluted. These include: rigid hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum), curled pondweed (Potamogeton crispus), the different kinds of stonewort (Chara and Nitella species) and spiked water-milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum). These plants are good news for the pond, so there is no need for your customer to remove them, other than to maintain appearances. In recent years there has been much debate about imported species often referred to as ‘alien invasives’

with many of these escaping into the countryside and crowding out other native plants. Although alien plants are often perceived to be a very big problem, hard evidence of their damaging impact is rather thin on the ground. Certainly, the all-pervasive pollution of freshwater is a much more widespread problem affecting many more water bodies. Alien plants do cause engineers problems by blocking rivers and canals and they can be expensive to remove. The New Zealand pigmyweed, or Australian swamp stonecrop (Crassula helmsii) was first introduced in 1911 from Tasmania and now spreads across much of Britain. Crassula is a highly adaptable plant colonising both pond margins and deep water (up to three metres) and grows all year round. It can form very dense mats across large areas of ponds. Although many people assume that it out-competes all other aquatic vegetation eliminating native plants and harming other wildlife, the actual evidence for this is quite limited. If your customer has this plant in their pond, they should try and eradicate it in the early stages, as once it’s established it can be very difficult to get rid of. Digging out is only viable for small patches and the main options are herbicide applications; shading with black plastic; or, in extreme cases, filling in the pond. However, be aware that all of these interventions will have a serious impact on other wildlife. These methods can be used singly or in combination, but none are foolproof and repeat treatments will be needed over several years. Parrot’s-feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum), sometimes confused with the native spiked watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum), was first introduced in 1960 and is now widespread. Not confined to

Pond care

water, it also grows as a terrestrial plant. Parrot’sfeather spreads vegetatively and many introductions are accidental, being carried on other plants. It can be removed by hand or sprayed with an aquatic herbicide like glyphosate. Like Crassula, Parrot’s-feather is evergreen so can be treated in winter when most native plant species are dormant. Floating pennywort (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides), also sometimes confused with the native marsh pennywort (H. ranuculoides), was first introduced from North America in the 1980s. Growing rapidly, it can spread up to 15 metres in a single season, forming dense mats of vegetation. Reproduction is vegetative, the plant re-growing from the smallest root fragment. Maximum growth is in late summer and it then over-winters on the banks and margins as a much smaller plant. It’s quite likely this plant grows best in polluted waters. Mechanical treatment is not effective for controlling floating pennywort because even small fragments re-grow and herbicides are currently the only practical treatment. Water fern (Azolla filiculoides), a native of North America, is the only free-floating water fern found in Britain where it can be a problem in slow-flowing or still waters. Usually it becomes abundant where there is severe phosphorus pollution. It can build up into thick layers, where winds and currents collect it, and can grow in any depth of water, but is intolerant of turbulence. Although killing the plant may be possible, curing the underlying pollution issue is usually the more difficult problem to solve. Conventional cutting equipment is ineffective and it should be harvested with weed buckets using baffle boards or barriers. Applications of the aquatic form of glyphosate is the most effective control. Other non-native plants include the Canadian pondweeds such as Nuttall’s waterweed (Elodea nuttallii); Canadian waterweed (Elodea canadensis); curly waterweed (Lagarosiphon major) and largeflowered waterweed (Egeria densa). Although technically ‘alien’ species, three of these are now so widely naturalised across Britain that it’s impossible to prevent their further spread. Egeria densa is more localised because it prefers warm water. There is no definitive answer to the question of what to do with the Canadian pondweeds, but on balance it’s often better to leave them alone as they are a better habitat for pond animals than no habitat at all. When it comes getting rid of pond plants, physical removal is often the customer’s first choice. Hand pulling is useful for small strands, but in larger ponds a chrome or muck rake is better. Physically removing alien aquatic plants is not always successful as they often grow back, and although with repeated treatments they may be weakened and eventually disappear, this can take a long time. Where plants are removed and especially the invasive alien species, they should be disposed of with great care by composting, burning or placing in council garden waste bins. No plants or animals should ever be introduced into countryside ponds, as, even if they appear to be native, as they may carry small fragments of alien invasive species. Herbicides, particularly an aquatic formulation of glyphosate and dyes, can prove the most effective means of controlling invasive submerged plants. Caution is


Far left: Crassula helmsii, Braithwaite Pond © Becca Cleaver. Above top: Curly waterweed, Lower Pond Greenmoor © Rod d’Ayala. Above bottom: Parrots feather, Kingsmead © Becca Cleaver. Above right: Crassula helmsii, Braithwaite Pond © Becca Cleaver Below: Native marginal plants, Pinkhill © Rod d’Ayala

required with these compounds as they are non-selective and, if all aquatic plants are removed, for example through use of dyes, they can leave ponds with peagreen or brown cloudy water. Applications should be early in the growing season before the nuisance plants become super-abundant, otherwise large areas of dead and decaying plants will de-oxygenate the pond. All aquatic herbicides need to be applied by a competent operator, holding a NPTC (National Proficiency Tests Council) certificate of competence. New methods to control plants are continually being developed. Recent trials have laid geotextile mesh-type materials on the bottom of the pond, to provide a physical barrier. This may be successful at controlling species like New Zealand pigmyweed (Crassula helmsii) and curly waterweed (Lagarosiphon major). The latest method for controlling invasive aquatic plants, and especially Crassula, is Waipuna hot foam, a biodegradable organic compound of coconut and corn sugars. When applied, it traps super-heated steam onto plant foliage breaking down the cellular structure of the plant. The foam dissipates within minutes, with almost immediate results. As with herbicides, a number of applications may be required for complete control. However, we advise caution as this is a new treatment, and we have no data about its impact on other plants, or the creatures living among the plants. Whatever method your customer employs, great care needs to be exercised when removing plants, especially submerged plants, from ponds. Plants are vital to your pond and, if large amounts of submerged plants are removed, there is a considerable risk that it will flip into a permanent green algal soup or develop a cover of duckweed. So, it’s important to remember that if a pond is full of submerged plants, even though this may look awful, it may be better for your customer than the alternatives, which are at least as unsightly and poorer for wildlife. Delicate clearing of small areas of open water may be the best visual option and do least damage.

Pond Conservation is the national charity dedicated to protecting the wildlife of our freshwaters: ponds, rivers, streams and lakes. We give advice, carry out research, promote practical action and lobby policy makers to ensure that freshwater wildlife and habitats have a secure future. To find out more visit:



Towards sustainability

A pioneer in the aquatics industry for over 50 years, MARS Fishcare is widely recognised for its science-based approach to product development. Two of the organisation’s key figures discuss the company’s history, its worldrenowned research into fish nutrition and the move towards sustainability MARS Fishcare’s sustainability manager, Jean-Luc Pauli, discusses the measures the company is implementing to demonstrate its commitment to environmental sustainability. What are your concerns regarding sustainability? One of the key issues for us is the over-exploitation of our sea fish stocks. According to many studies carried out by organisations such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation, these could be depleted by 2050. Fish-meal is usually a major ingredient in foods used for both ornamental fish and food-fish and, unfortunately, the fish-meal industry is a major cause of over-fishing.

Have you produced any sustainable products so far? Talking about sustainable products can be a bit misleading: let’s say that what we place on the market are ‘more sustainable products’ and not ‘sustainable products’. For the new NutriPearls pond food range, fish hydrolysate protein has been sourced from a certified sustainable fishery. Compared with the traditionally-used fish-meal ingredients, fish hydrolysate is not only more environmentally-friendly but also of superior nutritional quality. We believe this is currently the most environmentally sustainable pond food on the market.

What other measures do you undertake to reduce the impact on the environment? The company uses a development strategy that is based on lifecycle assessment encompassing raw ingredient production right through to the disposal of the end-product by the customer. For some years, we have developed a specific environmental impact reduction strategy

for each of our products. For some, it’s the careful selection of raw ingredients to reduce environmental impact, choosing those that have the lowest fossil fuel consumption, water usage and carbon footprint associated with their manufacture. We also replace soya with plants so less water and fertilisers are used and we obtain all our marine ingredients from sustainable sources. For other products such as pumps and filters, it’s important to ensure they are as energy-efficient as possible and we also look at the end-oflife disposal of products to ensure they have the lowest environmental impact possible. Lifecycle analysis methodology provides guidance as to which aspect of the product lifecycle has the greatest environmental impact, and hence, where the company needs to focus its efforts.

How is MARS Fishcare responding to the new EU directives covering the product lifecycle and improving consumer safety? We work with other industries and actively participate in a number of schemes. For example, MARS Fishcare led the programme that defined the first international standard for household electrical lighting units for aquariums. Over the last 10 years several new EU directives have been issued that demand higher levels of protection for people, animals and the environment. An engaged company is not one that applies the law just because the law has to be applied, but one that plays an active part in enhancing and improving current laws. As always, MARS will be leading the way in implementing the legislation as well as continuing its advancements in the field of fish care, so retaining its standing as an innovator in the aquatics sector.


European marketing manager Eric Gigueaux reflects on the company’s heritage and its pioneering studies into pet fish nutrition. How did the MARS Fishcare business begin?

What sort of studies are undertaken on fish nutrition?

The pet fish side of the business began around 1975 with the UK launch of Aquarian fish foods. The decision to enter this market was partly in response to the increasing popularity of fish-keeping. As MARS already had a number of pet care brands such as Pedigree and Whiskas, it saw the opportunity to be unique as a company providing care and support for all companion animals. As well as cat and dog food, we now also have bird, fish and horse food brands in our portfolio.

Over the years, Waltham’s fish scientists have addressed many aspects of pet fish nutrition, including macro- and micro-nutrient requirements, protein digestibility and the use of functional and novel ingredients. Recently, we have been investigating the nutrition of temperate cyprinid fishes such as goldfish and koi, as part of the research into our NutriPearls pond food recipes that have just been launched in the UK.

Apart from fish foods, what other products does MARS fishcare currently produce? Since the launch of Aquarian, the product range has increased dramatically with the acquisition in early 2000 of two leading brands – API (Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Inc), which delivers water treatments, filtration media, test kits and medications; and RENA in France, which has been manufacturing aquarium equipment since 1957. We also have the Pondcare brand, which helps pond-keepers maintain healthy ponds and fish with environmentally-sensitive products, including foods and treatments.

MARS also has a centre at Waltham-on-the-Wolds in Leicestershire. What work is carried out here? For almost 50 years, the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition (WCPN) has been the scientific authority unifying the research and development of the MARS business worldwide, including MARS Fishcare. It is recognised as one of the world’s leading authorities on pet care and nutrition. Waltham’s expertise in ornamental fish nutrition and fish care is provided by its in-house scientific staff, including PhD qualified fish nutritionists. Waltham works closely with universities and advanced aquarists to ensure fish foods are formulated using the latest developments and nutritional know-how. We have just installed a brand new aquarium suite where fishfriendly studies are undertaken on a range of ornamental species, including freshwater tropicals, marines and pond fish. This huge investment means we can directly study fish species that are kept for their ornamental appeal. As we have discovered over the years, the nutritional needs of ornamental fish are very different to those such as trout and salmon that are fast-reared for human consumption!

What are the major challenges of producing diets for ornamental fish? There are many! One major challenge is that, with a few exceptions such as goldfish and koi, fish are rarely kept in a single species environment. For example, an average tropical aquarium may house 10 or more different varieties with differing nutritional needs, such as herbivores, omnivores and carnivores. We routinely perform feeding trials on a broad range of fish, so we can be sure our staple diets meet all of their requirements. Manufacturers of fish foods have to consider their impact on the aquarium or pond environment. A poor quality, low-digestible diet could result in the fish producing excess waste, damaging the water quality and placing an extra burden on the filtration system. We ensure our own foods result in less waste and cleaner, clearer water. Additionally, a diet should deliver far more than simple nutrition, it should help the fish combat disease and stress. For example, we have looked at the anti-oxidant role of vitamins C and E in protecting goldfish against temperature-induced stress. Put simply, diets should be formulated to help fish cope better with their surroundings. We firmly believe our diets not only benefit fish maintained in the hobbyist’s aquariums and ponds, but also improve their health and colour and hence have an impact on saleability within dealers’ premises.

What are MARS Fishcare’s future plans? This year we have a large programme of new product launches within all our categories, including the sustainable pond food range NutriPearls in Pondcare, revolutionary hardware in RENA and new water treatments products in API. All these initiatives follow the same objectives – to deliver the best products backed by scientific proof, for the wellbeing of the fish and simplicity for the owners.


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Spring wildlife care

The birds and the bees Spring is a busy time of year both for retailers and the wildlife in customers’ gardens. CJ WildBird Foods offers advice on the range of products to help different species, from nest boxes to high energy foods for parent birds

Spring wildlife care


ou can help customers prepare for the breeding and nesting season by offering a variety of nest boxes in your stores. The main nesting season runs from March to August but it is thought that birds pair before this. Your customers should be looking to put nest boxes in different locations as early in the season as possible, so birds get accustomed to their positioning and size. The boxes can also be used for roosting sites over winter, which offer warmth and safety when they need it most. It is important to remember that nest boxes range in shape and size depending on the birds they will house. Materials such as wood or a robust, squirrelresistant concrete mix can be offered, which provide a safe and warm hide-away for up to 60 different species. If your customers are lucky enough to attract birds such as sparrows, tits or the occasional nuthatch or pied flycatcher to their gardens, then hole nest boxes are what they will be looking for. Robins, wrens, blackbirds and thrushes prefer more open nest sites and will happily move into lowfronted nest boxes. For all nest boxes a good general rule is to shelter them from prevailing winds and bright sunlight – normally facing north – and if mounting on a tree, avoid the side that water rushes down in heavy rainfall. For extra safety, recommend that your customers site the nest box above vegetation so when fledglings are developed enough to take their first flight, they have a nice soft hide if they encounter problems or predators. Nestlings can also be vulnerable to attack by woodpeckers and squirrels, who may enlarge holes in nest boxes to get to the young inside. There are products available, including nest box plates, that can be fitted to hole boxes and help protect birds in their vulnerable first few weeks. The extra activity among wildlife in the spring is hard for anyone to miss. With parent birds busy building nests and young fledglings taking their first flight, even those least interested in bird feeding may feel inclined to make their garden a little more birdfriendly. During the breeding season, high energy, protein-rich foods are what parent birds will need. Natural resources will be stretched with so many new mouths to feed, but there is such a wide variety of bird foods available that can cater for all species. Caring for garden birds and wildlife can be a hugely rewarding pastime, and many who start off with a small feeder and traditional food will quickly find themselves setting up complex feeding stations and offering a varied menu to meet the growing numbers of birds in their garden. Offering different foods, from low price point fat balls to specialist nyger seed, will support your customers’ growing habit from novice to seasoned expert. Knowing which foods garden birds need during the breeding season is as important as understanding the benefits of which nest boxes to put up. Dried mealworms are a great protein-boost for fledglings. For their parents, high-energy seed mixes and peanut cakes offer all the sustenance they need over this hectic period. Peanuts contain an oil-rich energy source, but these must be supplied with caution. Whole peanuts can be a choking hazard for young

and small birds, so a wire mesh feeder is needed to enable birds to take small chunks. Kibbled peanuts are a good alternative and are best fed on the ground, or on a bird table. Prospective parent birds need to ensure they have enough calcium in their diets to produce strong, viable eggs when they are ready to lay and can spend a lot of time looking for food that will increase their calcium levels. For this reason, offering seed mixes containing oyster-shell grit during the breeding season can give parent birds the boost they need and help them reserve their energy for when they have a nest of hungry mouths to feed. The choice of bird feeders available on the market is now as varied as the foods that go in them. From traditional tube feeders to slate-roofed wooden feeders, you can offer something to suit every garden and budget. Squirrels and large birds can be a big problem in gardens with bird feeders. The damage they cause to the feeders or the food lost to their pilfering can put customers off trying to help their garden birds. Encourage them instead to use specialist feeders and guardian cages, which offer maximum resistance to squirrel damage, and ensure only smaller bird species can reach the food intended for them. It isn’t only birds that benefit from a helping hand during the spring. Other garden wildlife will be starting to wake from winter hibernation and prepare new homes in which to raise their young. For example, hedgehogs begin to come out of hibernation in midMarch so having specialist houses and foods on offer is particularly beneficial at this time of year. Supporting insects is also important and in recent years the decline of the British bee has become a very real cause for concern. Customers can be encouraged to introduce Mason bees to their gardens. These are safe around children and pets, are excellent pollinators of fruit and are fond of a wide range of flowers and tree blossom. They naturally nest in hollow stems but these are often in short supply. By providing artificial nests, gardeners can help the bees and reap the benefits of good pollination gardens. The nests should be put out in the garden in mid-March and taken into a cool dry place such as a garage or garden shed for the winter. Every year, coverage of the Chelsea Flower Show and the BBC’s Springwatch results in a surge of interest in viewers’ own gardens and local wildlife towards the end of May and into early June. This is a peak selling time for DVDs and books on gardens, and stockists also see increased demand for nest box cameras offering a bird’s eye view of the parents and young. Just as spring is a busy time for wildlife, so there is greater interest for customers with the lighter days and longer nights allowing them to see the different species that thrive in their gardens.

Supplier Listing Batleys: CJ WildBird Foods: HG Gladwell & Sons: Natures Grub: Vital Pet Products:


Manufactured in the UK • Leading the market in Flat Pack & Fully Assembled Products • Consistent quality of build • Direct to the Pet & Garden Centre trades • Competitive pricing • Keen service levels

Tel 01227 470470 • Fax 01227 454541 •



Events 10 – 13 March Crufts 2011 NEC, Birmingham

13 – 14 March Luxury Pet Pavilion Spring Trade Show Westin Bonaventure Hotel, Los Angeles, CA

16 – 18 March Global Pet Expo Orange County Convention Center Orlando, USA

21 – 25 March 5th Pan Commonwealth Veterinary Conference Accra, Ghana

22 – 23 March PATS 2011 Sandown Park, Surrey

2 April – 2 May National Pet Month Events nationwide

5 – 6 April PATS 2011 Harrogate IC Harrogate, Yorkshire

13 – 15 April H H Backer Spring Trade Show and Educational Conference Atlantic City Convention Center Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA

20 – 22 April ZooVet Expo International Exhibition Center Kyiv, Ukraine

26 – 29 May Aquarama Suntec Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Centre Singapore

30 July Suffolk Dog Day Helmingham Hall Suffolk


19 – 21 September Glee NEC, Birmingham

5 – 6 October AQUA 2011 Telford, Shropshire


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Voice on the highstreet

Voice on the highstreet Pauline Selby

of Pets Etcetera, Chelmsford

How did you get into the business?

What is selling best at the moment?

The shop was originally my brother-in-law’s pet shop 31 years ago and I worked there with my sister for many years. My brother-in-law decided to close and after talking to many of his customers I found that a pet store was still needed on this side of Chelmsford. I have now been here for nearly 20 years and have loved every minute of it.

Hamsters and cages with all their accessories including treats and hamster balls always sell very well regardless of what time of year it is. On the reptile side, it would have to be bearded dragons or leopard geckos as these are always popular with established and new reptile enthusiasts. Corn snakes are also great for the beginner end of the market as they have a reputation for being easy-to-handle and do not grow too large.

How many people do you have working in the store? My eldest daughter Cara manages the shop during the week for me. Lisa worked with us when the shop first opened and is our main reptile person. My other daughter Emma helps out and Danielle is our parttime member of staff. We also have a college student from the local agricultural college.

Are you online yet? If so, do you think the web helps the pet industry? I actually have an appointment next week for someone to come in and help me set up a website to enable people to order their products directly. Opinion is divided as to whether the web is helping this industry – on the one hand it is giving people a lot more information, but on the other hand people do tend to read what is written on the web as the absolute truth. We have looked at many websites and forums where people are contradicting what is right and wrong. How do you really know that the person giving out all the advice is a professional?

What is the most interesting pet/ product in your shop? We have two degus in the shop at the moment: we are finding these increasingly difficult to find. They are a small rodent originating from Chile and look very much like a large gerbil.

Are customers’ buying habits changing? Buying goes in phases. If there has been a programme on TV about pet spiders or guinea pigs that is what everyone wants for a few weeks. It is quite funny to us sometimes as we will say ‘did you see that programme last night where they were talking about chinchillas?’ and we will wonder how long it will be before the phone rings with ‘have you got any?’

What’s your biggest day-to-day challenge? I would have to say pricing competitively. We have a big pet store in Chelmsford and find it quite difficult to compete. We will always try and keep our prices as low as we can, but we cannot match the offers provided by the larger stores. Sometimes, we cannot even buy the products from our wholesaler for the prices the larger stores are selling to the public.

What are your hopes and fears for the future? We hope to keep our regular customers and attract a lot of new people through our door. Our fears are related to the local council not improving our end of town by not giving us signs to let people know there are shops in our area and not including us on the shopping maps of Chelmsford. If things like this are not rectified soon more people will close because rents and rates go up but trade does not.

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Pet Gazette March 2011  

A business to business magazine designed by Arthouse

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