Vital Pet Group has announced an extension of its Lifeline Fund until October, in line with the government’s furloughing arrangements.
The Fund offers Vital customers an opportunity to extend their credit terms with the company to help them through a difficult period of trading as a result of Coronavirus. However, the wholesaler also says that there is evidence that brighter times are ahead for the independent sector and it is already starting to stock new lines.
Vital’s sales and marketing director Heather McManus says she has seen some evidence to support the recent Retail Times survey that reported that over a third of Brits (36%) are planning to use their local stores more often after lockdown, “We’re seeing evidence of there having been a slump in grocery in recent weeks with a corresponding increase in people using specialist and independent shops. This crisis has helped people focus on the value of local businesses and of course, many people are more comfortable shopping in smaller outlets where it may be easier to adopt social distancing. We hope this is a trend that will help the trade as lockdown restrictions start to ease.”
The wholesaler has recently listed leading brands Lily’s Kitchen and Edgar Cooper and is also stocking new lines from Billy and Margot. There are also new exclusives from a number of brands under the Pet Brands banner. Elkwood has a new range of vegetable-based dog chews, including some inspired by the seaside with shell, sea horse and star fish shapes and the inclusion of seaweed, which has a number of nutritional benefits.
Also new are Playsticks from The Chew Factory — offering chewing satisfaction but without the risk of injury or splintering that can occur with real sticks. There is a new range of dual material dog toys from Astrodog with impact activated flashing lights. And just as the weather is warming up, there’s a new range of accessories under the Cooler brand – including cooling bandanas and mats. Pawstex offers a range of extra tough toys for powerful chewers and Polydog updates the traditional squeaky toy with modern geometric shapes and stand out colours.
Heather says the market is certainly showing signs of springing back to life, “We’re doing all we can to support retailers in these difficult times. Going forwards, retailers have to keep those new customers who ‘discovered’ them in lockdown, as well as continuing to delight loyal customers. New products are a great way to do that so we’ll be continuing our mission to bring more innovation into the channel, as well as offering retailers a helping hand with the Lifeline Fund to support them during recovery.”
Vital is also taking pre-orders now on Christmas stock until the end of July.