Fast-growing drinks production and bottling firm Lanchester Group is aiming to take a bite out of the pet gift market through the launch of a new brand.
The County Durham firm – which operates Greencroft Bottling, Lanchester Wines, Lanchester Wine Sales, Lanchester Gifts and Lanchester Energy – is diversifying into a market which has proved especially lucrative in the US.
The company’s gifts and hampers division has launched its Best in Show brand, aimed at the growing market for high quality gifts for the nation’s dog and cat lovers and their pets.
The new venture is driven by Ruth Peyton, who runs the group’s Lanchester Gifts business, which is on target this year to turn over £7.2m – a rise of 24%.
The gifts firm, which employs 14 people full time, believes the success of the pet market in the US could mean UK suppliers are only just scratching the surface of the potential market.
Mrs Peyton has worked with one of the company’s main retail partners to trademark the brand and develop a bone-shaped basket for the dog products hamper and fish-shaped one for the cats.
Since its launch, Best in Show has turned over £120,000 in its first year and Mrs Peyton and her team are gearing up for bigger things by attending major trade shows for pet products.
The pet hampers contain high quality foods and other products, carefully sourced by Ruth and team. Some items are locally sourced, grooming products, for example, developed by Home Scents, of Hexham.
Other products include a range of pet-related mugs and quality pet treats reflecting the trend towards natural and organic products for pets.
The team is already looking towards potential export markets in Germany, Italy and Japan.
Mrs Peyton said: “I think this really could be the start of something pretty fantastic. The industry in the US is much more advanced but we know the market here tends to follow. Following the interest at the UK trade show PATS I’m convinced we’re barking up the right tree.”
The success of Best in Show and the rest of the gifts and hampers business is just part of the success story of the family-owned Lanchester Group, which has seen turnover rise from £47m in 2013 to close to £65m in 2014, while also laying claim to the title of the world’s first “carbon minus” liquor business.
The company was started by Tony and Veronica Cleary in the front room of their house in Lanchester, County Durham, 35 years ago.
Daughters Alex and Caroline and son Ben also work in the business, which is 100% family-owned.