Craig Wallace
Craig Wallace

Investment allows pet food company to take the lead

A food manufacturing expert who bought over a well-established dog food business is confident of securing £8m of sales over the next three years after significantly investing in the company.

Craig Wallace acquired the rights to the Wilson’s Pet Food name last year and since then has invested in two processing factories in Perthshire as well as £500,000 in equipment.

The company which sells to retailers including Pets at Home, and wholesalers, aims to increase its customer base as well as expand by selling online.

Now, after support from Business Gateway, Wilson’s is launching a new range of products and is due to open the first purpose built cold pressed dog food manufacturing plant in the UK.

Craig said: “Our goals are to build on the heritage of the company by continuing to make food for working dogs and to expand into other areas such as cold pressed food manufacturing which we believe is the future of dog food. We will be launching our cold pressed range next month and although it’s more complex to make, the quality is far better as well as being healthier. At the moment, there isn’t a dedicated factory in Britain making this and instead most are importing from Europe, so we believe this will be a major growth area for us.

“Once both of our factories are fully running by October we have projected that we will achieve £8m of sales in the next three years across the UK. We will also focus on increasing the number of outlets throughout the UK that our products are sold in and eventually we want to add online sales to our portfolio.

“We wouldn’t be in the position we’re in now if it wasn’t for the support we received from Business Gateway. Our adviser John McQueston has been a huge help, notably his knowledge of potential funding opportunities. John arranged for us to get an innovation grant from Scottish Enterprise which allowed us to work with a company in Norway to create our cold press recipe. We were also awarded an RSA grant of £50,000 towards our machinery which means our cold pressed products will be available from September which is fantastic.”

The factories in Blairgowrie and Perth will see 20 jobs created over the next three years as the company continues to make the popular muesli-type range of complete foods as well as offering customers a more extensive range of products.

Craig added: “I’ve worked in food manufacturing for over ten years, first for individual companies then as a consultant for my own business. I’ve always felt there was a lot of potential in the pet food sector and when I discovered that the owners of Wilson’s were not looking to invest any further in the business I jumped at the chance to buy it. The existing equipment had to be destroyed and we moved premises, so in essence we bought the brand only, but it allowed us to really shape Wilson’s to our vision. There’s always been a healthy demand for Wilson’s and its reputation for supplying quality food for working dogs is something we plan to build on.”

John McQueston, Business Adviser, Business Gateway said: “Wilson’s was once very dominant in the dog food market and it’s fantastic that Craig was able to step in and secure the future of a longstanding local business. Our expertise proved crucial as we were able to help Craig find essential funding that allowed him to make the necessary changes needed for growth. We also provided advice on marketing and developing the brand.”

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