While the likes of Royal Canin and Purina PetCare have dominated the global dog food market for decades, challenger brands like London-based Tails.com have marked their territory in recent years. Today, Nestlé Purina PetCare announced that it will acquire a majority stake in the British startup.
This is reportedly a mutually beneficial agreement that will boost Tails.com’s international presence, while helping Purina secure a foothold in the disruptive digital dog food market.
The deal will allow Tails.com to continue operating as a stand-alone entity, with the current management team remaining at the helm.
Over the last four years, Tails.com has brought personalised dog nutrition to the mass market. The company was early to identify changes in the way consumers want to shop and care for their pets, and matched up digital technology, food innovation and new manufacturing techniques to provide food individually tailored for dogs based on age, breed, size and level of activity.
Powered by a proprietary nutritional algorithm developed by vets, nutritionists and software engineers, the company now feeds more than 100,000 dogs in the UK.
Tails.com will continue to operate as a stand-alone entity, with co-founder and CEO James Davidson at the helm. It’s business as usual for customers, who will still have access to bespoke dog food delivered to their homes, as well as access to an in-house nutrition support team.
With the rapid growth of personalised pet nutrition, as well as subscription services, Nestlé Purina’s shareholding in this digital-first business offers significant growth opportunities for both companies.
“When we launched the company nearly four years ago, we were excited to bring something totally new to pet care in the UK,” James Davidson, Tails.com CEO said.
Tails.com’s subscription service model capitalises on the growing trend of pet owners buying pet paraphernalia online.
“Our mission is to change the world of pet food for good, by providing every dog with its own unique, blended recipe.”
“We’ve been amazed by the response from pet owners. We now provide four million bespoke meals per month to dogs across the UK and expect to see sales of well over £20 million this year,” he added. Through this deal, the company aims to reach more pets beyond the UK.
For Nestlé Purina PetCare’s EMENA CEO, Bernard Meunier, Tails.com gives the company a leg-up on the competition.
“Personalised pet nutrition, along with direct-to-consumer subscription services, are expanding rapidly and this move underlines our focus on investing in high-growth categories and acting on consumer trends,” he said.
Dog food makes up 75% of the UK £900 million retail pet food sales market, and more consumers are willing to shell out more money for quality products. In fact, people are twice as likely to cut back spending on their own groceries than their pets. With more options in the marketplace, UK pet owners may not have to.