Talking Trade with Will Durrant


The Managing Director of Happy Pet talks about their exciting plans to work with independent retailers

Will Durrant is the Managing Director of Happy Pet, a renowned supplier and manufacturer offering over 1,500 high- quality pet products headquartered in Leicestershire. 

Tell us about what Happy Pet does.
Happy Pets has been going for over 20 years in the trade. We are designers and manufacturers of over 1,500 products in five major categories, dog, cat, small animal, bird, and reptile. We operate in 55 countries worldwide with our core brands of Happy Pet, Healthy Paws and Komodo.

One thing people may not know is that we have the backing of Multipet International — Multipet is one of the leading accessory manufacturer designers in the United States that works with Walmart, PetSmart, and many other big retailers.

The exciting part is that we have the opportunity to bring lots of innovation from the US to the UK market in a short period of time.

Happy Pet works with up to three and a half thousand independent pet stores, which are key to our business and has been an important part of our business for the last 10 to 12 years.

You’ve recently become the Managing Director of Happy Pet. What are your immediate priorities for the business? 

The business is where it is today with a great foundation and a fantastic customer base, but we’ve been idle for too long if I’m being honest.

The biggest priority for me was to change the sales team structure, making sure that we have the right people to give great customer service and add real value. Whether it’s product availability, answering the phone or emails, or getting the order right, we want to be excellent at the real
basics. We’ve had five new team members join us over the last 3 months and we’ve now got over 125 years’ experience within the pet trade just in our sales force — that’s huge and we can now focus on growing.

I think the other priority is for me to look at product range. We have got a fantastic product range and we’ve got to evaluate what is right for 2024 and 2025 and what is the next round of innovation. One area that I am passionate about is getting back to adding more of a design element to our products.

I think it’s that there are a lot of pieces to still put together, but it’s an exciting journey ahead and one I am looking forward to getting stuck into. 

Why do you think that people maybe aren’t aware of Happy Pet? And what would your message be to independent pet shop owners who haven’t worked with you before?

If you haven’t heard of us, I think a lot of it would be down to we haven’t been in the public domain. We’ve not been at tradeshows and when you combine that with the lack of PR, people lose sight of you.

We have put a big focus on our independent customers over recent months and of course, this will continue in the coming months, our online trade portal has seen some amazing upgrades which makes it an all-around better proposition for our customers to use. The team has done an
amazing job in creating a seamless shopping experience and it comes with a lot of added benefits with low MOV, promotions, and more.

I am also keen to reengage with our independent customer base that may have lapsed over recent years so whether it’s communication with one of our 4 sales reps, our internal sales team or even through the trade portal, we have many ways in which we can work with your business. 

My advice would be to check out our trade portal at or contact our sales office on 0116 260 2100 who would be more than happy to help.

Tell us about some of the most exciting new products you’ve got coming out this year. 

We’ve got the launch of Lamb Chop™, which we’ll be bringing to the UK market from May. It is the number one seller in PetSmart, Walmart, and other retailers in the US, and we’ve decided to bring that in based on the data and its performance, but it is also an incredibly cute toy and I think
different to what’s currently out in the UK. 

We have also a steady stream of NPD (New Product Development) every month from May through the summer as we head to PATS later this year. I am looking to update all categories with a level of newness and refresh. 

We’ve got more licensed products coming in — and I don’t want to give too much away, but they are all very well-known characters and brands – watch this space. We’ve also then got a whole array of Happy Pet and Healthy Paws product launches that we’re doing. Natural treats are still becoming a key part of that, and we do a fantastic range of upwards of 140 natural treats already in both bulk and pre-packed.

What is the Healthy Paws brand?

Healthy Paws was originally founded 10 years ago with one aim in mind – to provide a more natural, hypoallergenic, balanced diet for dogs. Starting with a selection of novel proteins – Game and Rabbit, we have developed the range to offer a full life stage range and Healthy Paws now has six flavours and also comes in pâtés chubs and a fantastic range of oils. One of the main objectives was that it wouldn’t go into national customers. It is very much based for independents, with the right margins and the right price points.

I think the message to the independents is we can give it a go. Dare I say it, if an independent came to me and said: “I want to try Healthy Paws.” Let’s try three months and do a sale or return. We don’t have to go overboard with stock. We could run an effective trial of the products in stores and see how they go for you. Without being too flippant, nothing’s really off the table. We’re very open to trying things. We’re going to help you find the right proposition for your
retail space. 

You encourage customers to visit you to see your product showcase which has all your products set out in a retail environment, either by booking a visit or at your Happy Pet Expo event. Can you tell us about it?

Relationships are very important — particularly in the pet trade — and I think we need to make sure that we put a face to the business. 

We’re not just here, fulfilling orders. We want to engage with our customer base because we want to add value to their business. We want to also have a bit of fun with it!

We put on our expo event for two weeks through September and it’s a bit of like an open house event. We’ve got our two-story showroom, and we normally end up going way over the top with marquees up and down the car park with a coffee house or even a farm depending on the theme. It’s a fantastic opportunity to see all the new products and also get your hands on some incredible promotions, for me it’s key to have the right flow to the event and try to replicate the retail space as much as possible and make the product king. 

Then, this year’s really exciting because it’ll be the first time we’ll be at PATS for 10 years. This is a good opportunity to see customers we don’t always see but also meet new ones. I am looking forward to being back this year in a big way. This is just the start…