New £7m centre for growing pet food business

Richard Page, Managing Director of Inspired Pet Nutrition, in new warehouse at Dalton.
Richard Page, Managing Director of Inspired Pet Nutrition, in new warehouse at Dalton.
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AN ambitious family-run pet food company is targeting £100m turnover within the next five years after changing its name and opening a new distribution centre.

Inspired Pet Nutrition, formerly known as Wagg Foods, officially opened its new 100,000 sq ft distribution centre and offices near to its existing facilities at Dalton Airfield in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, yesterday.

The firm, which is the UK’s largest independent producer of dry pet food, invested £7m in building and fitting out the new automated site, which currently has the capacity to store around 11,500 pallets, with room to add a further 5,000 spaces if required.

Managing director Richard Page told The Yorkshire Post: “We only had 3,000 spaces before and had to use temporary storage for the rest. We wanted to consolidate everything into one distribution centre.”

The move is expected to improve customer service and enable longer production runs.

Using a technique called ‘one shot loading’, full pallets are automatically loaded on to a specially commissioned truck which delivers them to the new distribution centre where they are automatically unloaded, racked and sorted into individual stock keeping units ready for order picking.

Some 30 office staff will also move to the new building with production personnel taking over their current office space which will be used for meeting rooms and improved canteen facilities.

The investment is in addition to the £20m the business has spent over the past five years on automating production in its existing two mills which are also on Dalton Airfield.

A further £3m is scheduled to be spent on the mills in the next two years.

Mr Page said the company plans to strengthen its position across all the key categories within pet food, starting in complete dry dog food where it has a 25 per cent share and then expanding its treat business.

Wagg also wants to develop its wet food business, which began with a listing in Morrisons for its first dog product last year.

Morrison’s supermarkets chief executive David Potts performed the opening ceremony along with Mr Page.

The new building coincides with a name change for the company, which manufactures the Wagg brand of dog food, the best selling dog food by volume, and Harringtons, an affordable premium brand. Mr Page said: “Inspired Pet Nutrition is the new umbrella name for Wagg, Harringtons and any subsequent brands we create in the future.”

Mr Page told guests at the opening ceremony: “Wagg is the volume market leader and Harringtons continues to be one of the fastest growing brands in dried dog food and we will also have some exciting product launches this summer under the Harringtons name.

“We believe that a clearer focus on these two main brands will be achieved by having a separate identity for the overall business.”

Mr Page said he has big plans for the business, which currently has a turnover of about £70m. “We remain ambitious, otherwise we wouldn’t have made this investment,” he said. “We would like to take to take £70m of sales this year to £100m in three to five years and this will allow us to improve our ability to supply new categories, including treats, wet food and cat foods, which will open more doors.”

He added: “Our aim still remains the production of the highest quality pet food products at a competitive price through constant improvement in manufacturing processes and product innovation.

“This investment will further increase efficiency as the new site significantly boosts our stock holding capacity so longer production runs are possible.

“Therefore equipment downtime associated with changing over product lines is reduced along with the associated packaging waste.”