A Perthshire-based raw pet food company plans to double its workforce in the next two years after a £7 million investment.
Blairgowrie-based Bella and Duke will get from £5 million from the BGF.
The remaining £2m is provided by existing shareholders, including a further investment from Mobeus.
Bella and Duke was formed five years ago by Mark Scott and Tony Ottley after they lost pets to terminal illness.
They were convinced an alternative to processed pet foods would have benefited the health of their dogs and developed a range of raw meat and natural ingredients.
The products are frozen within 30 minutes of being made and delivered to customers on a subscription basis.
Bella & Duke now delivers more than two million meals across the UK each month.
The firm’s staff grew from 23 at the start of last year to almost 100.
There are plans to double that number in the next two years.
Mr Scott, chief executive, said: “This investment will allow us to continue to grow our production line and our distribution centre in Inverkeithing.
“We’ll continue to grow.”
Getting the DNA across
It has been a challenge to take on new staff during the pandemic, with staff working from home where possible.
Mr Scott added: “I’ve not met the majority of the new employees.
“We’ve had a lot of Zoom calls. You have to work harder to get the DNA of the company across.
“You’ve got to make sure you’re building the message across the team.”
The co-founder was delighted with the investment and hopes it will allow the business to grow long-term.
The long-term potential
It posted revenues of more than £11m in its last financial year.
Mr Scott said: “Our mission is to provide all British dogs and cats with the best possible nutrition.
“This funding round will enable us to continue growing.
“Attracting this recent investment demonstrates the long-term potential for Bella and Duke and showcases the significant opportunity within the raw feeding category.
“We’re delighted to be working with our investors for the next phase of the journey.”
A ‘phenomenal’ new chairman
Peter Farquhar, former chairman of natural petfood brand, Forthglade, will join Bella and Duke as chairman.
His appointment is a “phenomenal” boost for the business, according to the chief executive.
Mr Scott said: “He’s got a lot of experience in businesses of our size.”
“Having a chairman like Peter who has been there and done that several times, it’s great.
“To be able to pick up the phone and talk to him about everything is really helpful.”
‘Perfectly placed to deliver new industry-standard’
Graham Clarke, investor at BGF, said: “Providing consumers with high-quality raw pet food in a subscription-based model is proving a winning formula.
“We are delighted to be supporting Mark, Tony and the Bella and Duke team in their next phase of growth.
“We believe they are perfectly placed to deliver the new industry-standard of consumer pet wellness in Great Britain.”
Matt Mead from Mobeus said: “Bella and Duke has a great track record in the raw pet food space, and we know there is huge potential for this to continue.
“We’re excited to continue working closely with them to grow the business even further.”