Immediately after pet store giant PetSmart announced it had agreed to acquire Chewy.com in April, Tuffy’s Pet Foods stopped offering its products—NutriSource, Pure Vita and Natural Planet brands—on the online pet retailer’s website.
Now, two more heavy hitters in the pet food category are joining Tuffy’s.
Champion released the following official statement: “For more than 25 years, Champion Petfoods’ commitment to pet specialty retailers has been clear and non-negotiable. Upon the acquisition of the online retailer Chewy by PetSmart, Chewy no longer meets our definition of pet specialty. Therefore, ORIJEN and ACANA will no longer be available through Chewy. Pet Lovers can purchase our foods through pet specialty stores and authorized online retailers listed on the ORIJEN and ACANA websites. We continue to work exclusively with pet specialists who have intimate knowledge of our foods and are committed to providing expert advice to pet lovers.”
A post on the Fromm Facebook page included the following: “Fromm Family Foods is a 5th generation family-owned and -operated company with a long history of selling our products exclusively to independent pet retailers. Fromm believes our products are best sold by retailers who know our product and can offer pet parents what’s right for their specific dog or cat. As a result of Chewy’s sale to PetSmart, they are no longer an authorized retailer of Fromm products.”
Feedback from independent retailers that Pet Age spoke to has been mixed.
George Parente, owner of Cats and Dogs Rule, which has pet store locations in Princeton and Pennington, New Jersey, as well as in Newtown and Maple Glen, Pennsylvania, is cautiously optimistic and pointed to the news as just another example of how the industry is “in changing times.”
“Frankly, I didn’t think [Fromm and Champion] were going to pull the trigger,” explained Parente. “I’m kind of excited about this, but we’ve just got an email from Fromm that they’re going to sell their product on their own website. Still, I think [Fromm and Champion pulling their products from Chewy] is going to benefit us as an independent retailer. We’re selling the total store experience. We get customers every day that say they need help, and we provide them with solutions. We walk them from product to product, show them supplements or a chew toy, we offer them the education factor, the convenience factor. I think [Fromm and Champion leaving Chewy] is a positive. The independent retailer has a shot at getting stronger.”
Gregg Bernhardt, owner of Bag of Bones Barkery in Hamilton, New Jersey, says he and his wife Melissa, are happy with the news that a pair of heavy hitters will no longer be available on Chewy. However, they are concerned by the knowledge that Fromm has its own website that offers its products direct to consumer.
“As longtime independent retailers and supporters of Champion and Fromm brands in our central New Jersey store, we were happy to hear of both companies’ decisions to sever their product offering through Chewy.com in favor of their longstanding relationship with us, their independent retailers. However, for us, blue skies quickly turned gray again after learning that Fromm, in an attempt to retain the sheer scale of displaced Fromm consumers as a result of their severed Chewy.com relationship, decided to launch their own direct-to-consumer website.
“Essentially, independent reatilers are now going to be forced to compete directly with Fromm isntead of Chewy.com,” Bernhardt continued. “So, while we applaud both companies for ‘seeing the writing on the wall’ and pulling out of Chewy.com, the decision isn’t—at least in Fromm’s case—all rainbows and glitter. In fact, we—as independent retailers—may find ourselves in an even worse position than we were when Fromm remained on Chewy.com.”