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Open letter to all Independent Pet Retailers in

Friday 3rd October 2014 14:00:00

Open letter to all Independent Pet Retailers in the UK


In the last few days Waitrose have launched a new website that is offering over 9000 pet products to UK consumers. Many of these products are what you and I would consider to be for our Independent Trade “only” but increasingly in the last few years they have become available by other routes as well as our channel. This is the nature of an active market but it undoubtedly makes trade extremely tough for all Independent “bricks & mortar” pet retailers in the UK.


You will hear a lot of talk in the coming days about who is supporting this Waitrose website and I wanted to let you know our position clearly and immediately.


This website is being supplied by Monster Pet Supplies who is a customer of ours as well as other wholesalers in our Trade. Monster spoke to us in August to explain that they were considering this move but did not confirm that they had decided to go ahead with this project nor when it was going live. It is fair to say that we should have followed this up as a priority but we did not and as a result we have been caught out with this going live. We have immediately placed Monster Pet Supplies account with us on hold until we have spoken to all the suppliers affected.


On the brands that we own ourselves for the UK market, or from those partners who work closely with us, I confirm that these will remain exclusive for “bricks & mortar” pet shops and will not feature on this website or outside our Trade. That’s our on-going commitment to you. And whilst securing these agreements is never easy, we aim to do this only on quality products that you can get behind and sell with confidence, that also deliver strong margins.


But our business is a distribution business that requires volume to be efficient. And it is this efficiency that helps us to deliver the best possible pricing for you. So on those brands that we don’t own, we will always ask the brand owners for clarity on where they want their products offered for sale. If they request that they are to be made available to Internet Only retailers or in this specific case made available to Monster Pet Supplies for, then we will supply, to ensure that the volumes are kept with us in your supply chain.


We will continue to invest significant effort in encouraging manufacturers to work with us in support of you or indeed in challenging them about their supply strategies. Of course these relationships will all be different, ranging from those quality partner brands for “bricks & mortar” pet shops only, to the simplicity of a 3rd party logistics partnership like the one we have with Crown Pet Foods that allows us all to benefit from keeping the volumes in our Independent channel. Where other manufacturers make different choices, to go direct or to use supply options outside our Trade, then we will have failed in our efforts to keep those volumes within your supply chain. This has a direct effect on the pricing of all products as it makes the supply chain more expensive.


And we then rely on you as retailers to engage in the debate with manufacturers and wholesalers, and ultimately to consider your buying options.


I would encourage you to actively challenge us all on our supply principles as well making sure you are clear about the costs you are supporting. For every delivery from a different supplier you are paying for another warehouse, another driver, another delivery vehicle, more fuel charges and more administration costs. And many of these not even with Pet trade companies. I am not trying to suggest you should only trade with us. Just that we need to understand what we are paying for and wouldn’t we rather support like-minded businesses who will step up to ensure the long term sustainability of our Trade.


If Independent Retailers again do not vote with their feet, then distributors and manufacturers without the same principles will continue to make these same decisions, favouring short term sales volumes over the long term sustainability of our market. This is an option we have repeatedly avoided, potentially to the detriment of our business and turnover, in an effort to support you, the Independent retailer. The choice is now yours to decide who you will support for the future of our Industry.


Kind Regards,


Bruce Steuart

Managing Director

Vital Pet Products