Q How would you describe the growth of Dog Rocks since you launched it into North America in 2012?
A It’s exciting! Lots of highs and a few lows along the way, but I guess that is life and my mantra is “if you are not in it, you can’t win it!” The North American market is, under the skin, very different from the European market, and I think the main factor for this is volume or potential volume. The size of the market means that pricing is much keener, everyone wants product on promotion, margins are tighter, and it’s more expensive to bring a product to market in the United States than it is in the EU market. That said, if you are able to balance those factors, employ the right people, sustain the right sales channels and sales relationships, it’s a very exciting place to be. The opportunities and exposure to seeing new products and ranges has been thrilling, and that has definitely had a positive impact on the company.
Q What do you look for in a product to carry it under the Podium Pet Products umbrella brand?
A We exist to enhance the joy that pets bring to their parents. We are moving to non-plastics and natural products. Our products (or perhaps services in the future) have to have as low a carbon footprint and be as plastic-free as possible. Ideally, we want them to be consumable (not necessarily edible) and a repeat purchase with a median price tag, and most importantly, to have the potential to turn into volume. Life is so short and precious, we also want to have fun bringing products to market and selling them!
Q Where do you source products from?
A I am a real Tibetan sympathizer, so I try not to invest in China. That’s easier said than done, of course. My dad was a Gurkha, a Nepalese soldier, so I have a real fondness for India and Nepal and would love to work with people from these areas more. Because we are all about natural, as long as there is a clear and sustainable path back to the product or its component parts’ roots, then we will consider any territory, really. By coincidence, most of our products come from Australia and New Zealand.
Q What are the primary differences between the U.K., European and North American markets?
A Volume—the U.K. market is about seven times smaller than the United States. Because of this decisions can take longer in the U.S. market, and it’s way more expensive to work in the U.S. market because of the amount of trade shows and promotional activity you have to do to get into buyers’ portfolios and product shifting. North America is, of course, a vast continent; targeting regions is a must in the States, whereas that is not the case so much in the U.K. market. Openness to new ideas [is also a must]—the Americans and Canadians are very willing to try new things and give things a go, which is great. Opportunity is still very much an important part of the United States and Canadian psyche. The people are similar though; they are pet parents, pet lovers and a caring community.
Q As a sports and fitness enthusiast, how do your pets play a role in your life?
A I am what I would classify as a professional amateur and I ride horses a lot. I also event, do cross country and show jump to the best of my ability. In addition, I do an ice sport called the Cresta Run, which is fast and furious but a wonderful thrill! Horses, therefore, are central to my being (my well-being, if I am honest!). My dogs come out on rides with us as well. It is like a tribe when the kids join in! We have a very outdoorsy lifestyle that is reflected in the core values of the company—natural and grounded!