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Franchising for man's best friends: Pet franchises in the UK

Since the arrival of the first domesticated dogs onto British soil over 9,000 years ago, Britain has been a pet-obsessed nation. The latest statistics from the Pet Food Manufacturer’s Association indicate that there are around eight million cats and eight million dogs (up nearly two million since 2004) in Britain, with 19% and 23% of homes owning a cat or a dog respectively. More recent decades have seen a diversification of pet tastes among the British public, to the point where British households are now home to (among other critters) one million rabbits, half a million hamsters, 300,000 lizards and 200,000 snakes.

Although the ownership of certain species has seen a slight decline with the onset of austerity (particularly dogs, with people tending to favour lower-maintenance options such as cats and fish), stats like these still indicate a massive and loyal market that franchises can tap into; last year, Britons spent £14.9 million on pets according to The Daily Mail. Many pet owners will tell you that there are few greater pleasures in their life than caring for their co-inhabitant of choice, and if you are one of these people possessing a passion to deliver high quality care and services to pets and their devoted keepers within your locale then a pet franchise could be perfect for you.

Encouragingly for pet franchises, pet owners still insist on affording their companions the highest possible level of care despite the tough financial climate, due largely to the trend of pets being perceived as ‘one of the family’ as opposed to mere animals sharing the same living space. Of particular importance to pet grooming businesses – according to Santander Business Guides – are pedigree dog breeders and owners, among the most enthusiastic carers of their purebred pets. This affords franchisees within this sector a guaranteed market to offer their services. Dial-A-Dog-Wash is a franchise that has staked its claim to this segment of the market with its reputable dog cleaning and grooming services.

Despite the concerning habit of feeding pets human food, pet food remains the option of choice for any responsible pet owner, and a number of franchises have been set up to facilitate this need. Worryingly, obesity amongst British pets is at an all-time high due to poor dieting and a more sedentary lifestyle, and so the supply of healthy foodstuffs tailored to the nutritional requirements of the animal in question has never been more pivotal. Husse is a franchise specialising in home delivery of quality pet feed. Oscar Pet Foods and Kibbles Mill facilitate the same service, with all three aiming to deliver maximum value to the consumer and maximum return to the franchisee. Paw Pals and Kelly’s Canines on the other hand focuses on providing the exercise required for weight loss through its dog-walking service in addition to pet-sitting, constituting the ultimate compliment to an owner’s homespun pet care.

Tragically, the recession has seen a marked increase in instances of pet abandonment, with owners no longer able to afford to care for their once beloved companions. According to the RSPCA, over 100 pets are abandoned in Britain every single day. This has led to overcrowding in kennels up and down the country, incurring increased heartache for pet owners seeking to temporarily accommodate their pooch if they need to travel overseas. Fortunately, a number of franchises have arisen to alleviate this concern, with companies such as Wagging Tails, PetStay, and 101 Friends catering for the growing home boarding market.

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