Where will the pet industry be in three months’ time?

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Lynda Ward, owner of award-winning recruitment specialists Pet Trade Solutions was asked, “Will the pet industry follow the expected national trend of a third of businesses cutting staff in the next three months?” She answered, “There’s no clear indication of this yet (in fact quite the reverse) but due to COVID-19 the next three months will definitely be critical.

“With the demand for new pets during lockdown having exploded — particularly for puppies — there was bound to be a consequent bounce in food and accessory category sales to cater for them. On the whole that’s good news for manufacturers and distributors as well as online and bricks and mortar retailers providing that returns are able to cover any increased costs.

“Sadly kennels and catteries have been very badly hit due to lockdown and travel cancellations but will hopefully recover and thrive during their traditionally quieter months as the public make up for lost vacations by booking more winter holidays.”

Lynda goes on, “I must mention pet shop staff in particular who should be applauded for being on the front line during these difficult times and having the patience and skill to deal with the many new pet owners needing guidance, as well as those not so sensible customers who have needed reminding of the need to social distance!

“While a huge number of office-based workers and field sales personnel have been furloughed or continued to work very effectively from home other employers have brought in ingenious systems whereby for instance a reduced level of in-house staff have rotated with colleagues working remotely to maintain cover yet observe safety rules.”

Lynda adds, “Some companies which have been or expect to be hard-hit for some reason will no doubt be looking at ways to reduce outgoings and staff levels are likely to be near or at the top of the list. Every individual role will need to be objectively assessed to find possible ways to keep or increase its long-term viability for the benefit of the business and staff member. If this is done collaboratively there could be a surprisingly beneficial result for both.

“For some people there will of course be changes to the normal way of working. Face to face meetings between buyers and salespeople could perhaps be accomplished by reducing regular physical meetings but supplementing by zoom or other means of online meetings — a trial would soon establish viability. Personal relationships are absolutely critical to sales and all sectors of this industry has always thrived by attention to that detail. Currently I am still being regularly asked for field sales candidates as new and existing businesses who understand that look to the future.”

Lynda concludes, “While there will certainly be challenges in many guises we are fortunate to be in a trade that has in the past been dubbed ‘The Recession-Proof Industry’ and as demand for goods and services remain or grow we will continue to rise to the logistical and emotional difficulties presented by the virus.”

Lynda is always happy to personally advise on any aspects of recruitment and marketing strategy and can be contacted on 0794 674 3784 or at lyndaward@pettradesolutions.com