News 10 Questions With Michelle Turnbull

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10 questions with…Michelle Turnbull
19th January 2022

By Justine Thompson

Michelle Turnbull founder of the Barking Bakery, talks to pbwnews

1. What was the catalyst for the launch of the Barking Bakery?
I used to wander up and down the supermarket aisles looking for an unusual and tasty baked treat for my pet collie Spot to enjoy on a weekend while I was tucking into my takeaway and G&T. But I was always left despondent when nothing seemed to fit the bill. I couldn’t find anything that wowed me. Even when I watched the trend for more interesting treats grow, I still couldn’t find the thing I was looking for. I wanted something a bit special. When I invent something in my head, I can’t rest until I find it and, if I can’t find it, I make it. I came up with the idea for a doggy Woofin and after I baked my first one in 2012, myself and Spot knew we were onto something.

2. What did you do before launching the business?
I’ve always worked within my family’s businesses but before the Barking Bakery I sold property development for a company in Spain – quite different to where I am now.

3. How did you get you get your products to market?
I attended a Pets at Home innovation day and afterwards spent two years researching and developing the products. With the continued support from Pets at Home I worked and perfected my original Woofin recipe that not only looks and tastes fantastic but has a shelf life of nine months plus. I launched my products into 15 stores in 2014 and since then the company has grown to supply thousands of retailers.

4. Can you tell us in which retail outlets your products are sold?
We sell our products in Pets at Home, The Range, Ocado, Wilkinson’s, Bents Garden Centre, Notcutts to name a few, plus hundreds of fabulous independent retailers throughout the UK.

5. Do you use all your own recipes and how do you make sure they are safe for pets?
We use our own top secret recipe that is DEFRA-approved. Through working with vets and DEFRA, we have ensured that all the ingredients of a human cake mix are adapted to be safe for our four-legged friends.

6. Do you make all the products inhouse?
We have a bakery on site and everything is hand-made and decorated by our talented bakers here in the UK.

7. You appeared on Dragon’s Den in 2019, what was that experience like?
I eventually agreed to appear on Dragons Den after being asked to appear on the show numerous times. The whole experience of appearing in the Den was fantastic. Although extremely nerve wracking, it was an amazing experience. Even though we didn’t receive any funding, the publicity we received was phenomenal and it enhanced our brand exposure no-end, helping to turn the Barking Bakery from what could have been a cottage industry to the successful manufacturer that it is today.

8. Can you give us an idea of how the company has grown since launch?
The Barking Bakery started in my kitchen in 2012 where we made 12 large Woofins a week and 24 minis. We would then drive these to Barkers in Wilmslow. We are now in our third premises and have gone from five staff to 40 plus in just five years. The best news of all is we are now looking to design and build a purpose-built pet bakery. The details are secret at the moment but it’s going to be ‘pawsome’.

9. Has it been hard to finance the growth of your company?
Yes, it’s been extremely challenging but, through the help of family investment and a fabulous bank manager who believes in us, we have been able to flourish. We have also received some grant funding for the food and manufacturing industries in the North-West which has proved invaluable.

10. What’s next for the Barking Bakery?
The sky really is the limit! We strive to be a household name in the pet treat sector and continue creating innovative and tasty tail-swishing treats for the nation’s pooches. We are now looking to expand further and seek out new distributors throughout Europe.