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Sunday 22 September 2019

Lily’s Kitchen to drive rapid sales growth through global expansion

The business has led a wave of fast-growing upmarket brands in the pet sector.

David Milner and Henrietta Morrison, Lily’s Kitchen.
David Milner and Henrietta Morrison, Lily’s Kitchen.

By Henry Saker-Clark, Press Association City Reporter

Premium dog food brand Lily’s Kitchen has shrugged off Brexit concerns to drive forward with plans to double its sales through global expansion.

The company, which was founded 10 years ago by Henrietta Morrison after failing in a search for nutritious food for her poorly border terrier Lily, is bidding to double sales amid new investment.

Lily’s is looking to drive international growth and increase its UK distribution network, after receiving a £5 million funding boost.

The cash injection has come amid a change of leadership for the company, with former Tyrell’s crisp boss David Milner joining as chief executive at the end of 2018 to deliver its ambitious growth plans.

The business has led a wave of fast-growing posh brands in the pet sector, as pet owners continue to spend more on gourmet food for their pampered pooches.

UK sales of premium wet dog food surged 7% last year, despite total dog food sales in the country sliding 2% to £1.6 billion, according to figures from Euromonitor.

Retail sales value for the company is expected to jump to £80 million by the end of the year, up from around £50 million in 2018, as consumer demand for premium natural products continues to boom.

Growth will be driven through increased distribution in the UK, as well as plans to cash in on the rapidly growing Asian market, it said.

New chief executive Milner said the firm has been protected from the impact of Brexit because of strong growth in the sector, but said that it recognised the need to expand into new markets.

Mr Milner said: “Europe is our nearest market and a really strong one too, and Brexit won’t change that.

“It’s important to us to try and build our brand wherever we believe there is a genuine demand for our products, and we believe that Asia and other areas provide those new growth opportunities.

“The brand is leading growth in the industry because people across all markets care about the nutrition and quality of what they feed their pets.”

Mr Milner took the role more than four years after initially joining the business as an investor.

Lily’s Kitchen has seen a programme of investment since selling a minority stake to private equity firm L Catterton in 2015.

Heavy investment resulted in the company posting a pre-tax loss of £5.3 million in the full-year to March 2018.

The firm has grown on the back of a “strong presence” in western Europe, but is now entering markets across Asia, such as South Korea and Japan, to deliver another boost to sales.

It has also received royal backing after being granted a Royal Warrant from the Prince of Wales last month.

PA Media

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