November 8, 2020

Pets Choice: Blackburn company’s lockdown era success story

By haziqbinarif

A LEADING East Lancashire pet business boss has hailed the part played by our furry friends during the pandemic.

Pets Choice has been operating in Blackburn since 1987 and has recently acquired Yorkshire firm The Animate Company as a prelude to what management believe can be an extremely strong period despite the challenges they have faced.

For CEO Tony Raeburn, the firm’s continued success shows just how much people value their pets, perhaps even more so during tough times and he hopes this will help underpin further expansions.

He said: “With all of the changes that people have had to deal with, having pets by our side has definitely helped with the situation, with pets being a very important part of the family.

“People have also been connecting more with their local environment and wildlife, we don’t just cater for dogs and cats but also hedgehogs, swans and ducks and all kinds of animals.”

He added: “They’re a massive help to people’s mental health, every time you get worried about things or down, your dog doesn’t really notice and that can be a great reassurance.

“It’s no surprise to us, as pet lovers, that pet ownership in the UK has soared since the start of lockdown.”

Pets Choice operates a site on Lower Phillips Road, Blackburn, from which the company supplies grocery outlets, larger chain stores and specialist pet shops across the UK.

However, the various brands associated with the company have histories, in many cases, stretching back even further, such as Davies Dog Food, which begun production in 1881 and Bob Martin, founded in the 1890s.

This institutional memory has been invaluable as the firm navigates this year’s challenges.

Mr Raeburn said: “There’s people still involved in this business since it was founded in 1987.

“I joined in the 1990s when the company had lost its way but despite the challenges, we managed to turn it round. We’ve had some bleak times in the past, but we’ve always had a survival mentality.”

However, Pets Choice’s story is not just one that speaks to the company itself and its own employees.

Instead, Mr Raeburn believes that it is one that the wider community in Blackburn can share in and one that points the way to light at the end of the tunnel as the economy continues to struggle to adapt to the impact of the pandemic.

Mr Raeburn said: “I think for Blackburn, Pets Choice is a fantastic success story, going up against the multinationals and proving to be more flexible has helped to put but the town on the map alongside some other great companies, the Issa brothers’ takeover of Asda has also been incredibly encouraging for the area.”

This future could also prove to encompass more and more people, with Mr Raeburn indicating that the company may be interested in expanding further.

Contemplating the post-pandemic future, he said: “I think we’ve got to evaluate like any other business, we’ve taken on new staff and some of them have never even been to head office! So, we’ve got to evaluate where we’re going to be. We will adapt like any other to the new normal, but have high hopes for the future.”

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