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Pet Care Trust conference
looks to raising standards in the industry


The Pet Care Trust Conference was held in Brighton this year on 23rd and 24th October in the splendour of the Grand Hotel. Over 200 members attended a terrific social event that also gave some fascinating information and insight into the Pet Industry as a bonus.

The programme, developed by board member Steve Fowler and his team, was a useful and interesting mix and included presentations by Peter Branson, the managing director of PetCareCo, who are rolling out one stop pet centres that he believes will transform the sector and raise standards. The company is wholly owned by Masterfoods so so his vision may not be fanciful. Sue Edwards gave a detailed presentation explaining how to maximise sales throughout the creative and scientific approaches to merchandising in retail outlets. He delivery was on the slow side but it was very professional and several retailers told me that they had a learned a lot.

Steven Charman then took the stage. If you know Steve, who is a Director of a small chain of pets shops called Pets Corner, you will know that there is little room for anyone else once he takes over. He gave a remarkable and well received presentation about pricing in pet shops. He compared a M & S sweater at £32.50 that he was likely to wear a few times and leave in the back of a cupboard with a beautiful tooled leather collar that retails at £18.50 but will be worn by the purchaser's dog until it falls apart. He asked whether manufacturers, wholesalers and retainers had really thought through the value of their stock. He thought that they had not.

We had presentations about the success of franchising in Holland and the differences in the distributive side of the retail trade across Europe. Did you know that delivering 15kg of dog food to northern Sweden costs more than the recommended retail price of the food? There was an excellent presentation by the creative director of Interbrand describing why a brand has such value and the ways in which brands are developed. Some brands, for instance are more recognisable globally than the crucifix - what was it that John Lennon said about the Beatles?

The Mongolian BBQ on the Wednesday evening, the gala dinner on Thursday and the lunches provided a convivial way to catch up with old friends and make new ones.

The pet industry is very inclusive and although, of course, people and organisations are in competition, everyone realises that it is essential to work together to promote pets and pet ownership.


Delighted

In fact, that was a recurring theme of the meeting. I was delighted to hear it, for I have been talking and writing for years about the threats to pet ownership from local, national and international governments and the short sighted organisations that mistakenly believe that pet ownership should be restricted and, in the most extreme cases, prevented all together.

The AGM of the charity was helped at the end of the final morning. The board regrettably said good bye to Peter Kemp, MD of Shaws Pet Products, who had served the Trust and, before that the PTIA and the PTA or PIA for a total of 30 years. He was presented with lovely bowl and a decanter. The Thursday was also the 80th birthday of Freddie Waffren of Cagex who shared an enormous cake with all those present.

On a more serious note the revised memorandum and articles were accepted as they stood and the membership was pleased to see that the Trusts funds were in good shape. Leslie Heaton-Smith reported on the work of the Trust (you can find out more at www.petcare.org.uk and especially mentioned the proposals to work more closely with other organisations that share our interests and the re-print of the 'Pets are Good for You' booklet so that it can be more widely distributed. You can access it on the web site too and it is well worth a read.

PetIndex (the pet industry's trade show) and the Conference are the public face of the Pet Care Trust but an amazing amount goes on behind the scenes much of which had a direct effect on us as dog owners, breeders and exhibitors. What it does is important because the Trust is one of only three organisations in the country that actually campaigns positively in favour of pet ownership. The others are The Kennel Club and PRO-Dogs. They need all the help they can get in the current social climate.