1. How is Beco coping with the current lockdown?
It has been an interesting time. We’ve all had to get used to working remotely, having countless Zoom meetings and juggling work with childcare. From a personal perspective, I’ve seen more of my children, enjoyed the fresh air in London and managed to exercise, which is great.
From a business perspective, it has been good so far. Surprisingly, the physical distancing we’ve been through has actually brought us closer together. We’ve had more team meetings and weekly company meetings than ever before.
I’m immensely proud of the team and how they’ve handled the changes, they’ve really risen to the challenge. Our sales team and wider company are doing all they can to support our network of retail partners through these crazy times. These amazing retailers up and down the country are the real heroes, serving pet owners with our products. For that we’re immensely grateful..
2. Have you seen sales of your products increase since lockdown was imposed?
Food and poop bags saw an initial spike and have now levelled out to what we would expect. Toys and accessories dropped off initially, but we are seeing them come back to something more like normal now.
The spike came from the understandable bulk buying of worried pet owners. Since, people have come to realise that we are still here and we’re not going anywhere, the bulk buying has slowed.
3. Have you kept all your staff working or have you had to furlough some?
From the outset, we decided we wanted to use the furlough scheme as a last resort. We are pleased to say that we have managed to keep all the team on board. In fact, the team has expanded since the outset of coronavirus and we have every plan to continue growth.
Coronavirus or not, everyone at Beco knows that we have a network of suppliers, retailers, and, in turn, pet owners who rely on us. Every team member, from our HQ to distribution centre, is key to our mission and we are proud of the work they continue to do over this period of uncertainty.
4. Has it been difficult to implement social distancing in your premises?
The safety of our team is our top priority so we have split into a rota system and implemented social distancing measures. The distribution centre team works in shifts – three long days on, four days off. The office team are in for one week, then work from home for two weeks. This has made social distancing and safe work practice easier to implement. It’s been a challenge but we’re just so grateful to be able to still be operating safely. We’re doing everything we can to make sure our team stays fit and healthy.
5. Do you think the current crisis will help the debate around sustainability going forwards?
A recent YouGov survey found that a clear majority of the UK population want to see at least some of the personal or social changes they have experienced continue after lockdown finishes. While only 9% want a complete return to normal, 27% have noticed more wildlife and 51% cleaner air since the outbreak. Around 17 million are throwing away less food, and more people are shopping locally. We hope and think sustainability will become even more prevalent.
We’ve been working long and hard to create a new look that drives home the importance of caring for our planet. We hope this will help us continue to spark those crucial conversations around sustainability.
6. When you launched Beco did you envisage that sustainability would become such an important issue around the world?
Yes, I did. Although I didn’t think it would take 10 years. We’ve been making eco pet products since 2009 and it’s great to see other companies starting to think in the same way. The pivotal moment we noted was Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet in 2017. It bought sustainability to where it belongs, into the spotlight.
Since then, activism and consumer demand for sustainable products has grown. It’s great to see people demanding that manufacturers operate in a more responsible way, valuing the ethics and sustainability of their supply chain.
7. Are you pleased with the growth of Beco?
When we launched we set off with one mission in mind – to make the highest quality products in the most sustainable ways possible, to care for pets and look after our planet. We’re really happy with Beco’s growth, but for us it’s more about promoting sustainability and staying true to our mission.
8. Which are your most successful products?
That’s a tricky one as we’re really proud of our entire range – each product has its own merits that makes it a success to us. We’re probably best known for our environmentally friendly poop bags, but the greatest success in my eyes are the toys made from recycled plastic. The range has recycled over 3.6 million plastic bottles. I consider those plastic bottles never making it into the ocean or landfill a big success. Our food has been a hit too, the response to our ethical and sustainable food for dogs has been amazing.
9. Did you design the business to be full of creative minds?
We’ve focused on hiring product and graphic designers from the start. So that has meant we’ve always had creatives within the business. That said, we always look for people who are willing to challenge the norm and think differently.
We’re really proud to hold onto and nurture the talent we have within Beco and this has been integral to our successes so far. Most of the team have been with us for years, they feel ownership of their role and are invested in our mission. We do our best to find creative minds and we work hard to retain them, giving them the tools to apply their creativity successfully.
10. Once we come out of lockdown how will Beco tackle the future?
We’re very excited to be launching a fresh new look for Beco. It’s been a long journey, trying to distil what it is that makes Beco, Beco, and how we can communicate that effectively.
We’re very proud of our new look so we’re going to be shouting about this from the rooftops. We’re also looking to launch a range of plastic-free bamboo bowls, and a hemp rope toy range in the coming weeks, so lots to be excited about and look forward to. We’ve come so far, we don’t intend to slow down now.