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Marketwatch: Pet beds and bedding
13th January 2014

By Sandra Pearce

A monthly snapshot and analysis of a different sector within the UK pet industry



From Rosewood; keeping cats snug in winter

Despite the tough economic climate, the pet bed and bedding sector has maintained its market size and was worth an estimated £35 million RSP in 2012, according to market researchers AMA Research.

The manufacturers we spoke to all said that their customers continue to look for durable, comfortable, stylish and practical products of higher quality. However, they also said that some customers are very price conscious, and that the market does have a high level of cheap imports, though as one manufacturer noted, these tend to be treated as disposable bedding.

Harvey Gora of Gor Pets explained: “In any market, you will get producers of low, middle and high quality, and pet beds are no exception. We are an importer of pet beds, and there is not a vast cost differential from producing in the UK and importing, but it has made UK producers re-think to offer value for money items and not be overpriced.

“Our processes are streamlined across the board which has a larger impact on our prices compared to importing directly; it means UK manufacturing has to also be streamlined to keep up with us. Overall, the pet bedding market is starting to find its niches, and who services them effectively will be winners.”

Scruffs’ Adrian Bartlett says there is always a place for cheaper items, and that most retailers will sell two lines, a budget and a premium range. “We regard our products as being in the mid to higher end of the market, and therefore are not affected directly by the cheaper imported products. As a nation I believe we are in general looking for a good value product rather than a product purely based on price. As the saying goes: you get what you pay for.”

Innovation is driving sales within the market, prime examples which include beds made of memory foam; magnet therapy beds and thermal bedding. Scruffs, for instance, says its ECO, Thermal and Memory bedding ranges provide innovative features that are an added benefit to customers.

Last year Rosewood Pet Products launched the K&H Thermo & Cool bedding. The heated products are popular among cat owners in winter, but the Thermo range is used year-round to provide warmth to relax muscles for active pets or soothe the joints and muscles of aging and arthritic pets. The insulated cool bed is popular in summer months.

Rosewood’s MP Bergamo Sonny Plastic beds

Rosewood has also launched the MP Bergamo Sonny Plastic beds range, which the company describes as being ‘probably one of the biggest innovations we have seen in plastic beds for approximately 15 years’. Rosewood’s Eleanor Tompkins says these practical beds combine function (they are hardwearing and hygienic) and fashion, being stylish and available in six colours. It has also launched a selection of mattresses and pillows to suit the range, encouraging add-on sales. The company’s  water-resistant mattresses and beds are good sellers as customers appreciate their ease of cleaning.

The increasing humanisation of pets is also evident in beds that resemble human furniture.

And for owners who share their furniture with their pets, Trixie has designed a sofa cover for chairs and sofas, which includes side rests, so a dog has its own chair or part of the sofa.


Trixie has a solution to sharing furniture with pets…

In among all this is also the trend towards products that use natural or recycled materials, and which are more environmentally friendly. Companies that can fly the ‘Made in Britain’ flag find favour among consumers who want to support local manufacturing and cut down on sea miles. Recognising this, Ancol’s Simon Lane says Ancol is moving more and more of its production to the UK, and has always maintained 65% and above UK content.

There’s mixed feedback when it comes to colours and fashion. Rosewood says customer demand is for ‘core lifestyle colours’, such as neutrals and country greens. Yet Ancol has observed that new designs and colours have ‘a very positive effect on uplifting sales’, and that its customers like to be offered new designs regularly, while Trixie says that decent colours that match contemporary furniture trends are always in demand.

Gor Pets also sees the importance of new colours and designs, and this winter will launch the Box Sherpa fabrics.