An entrepreneur is planning a major assault on the dog food market after buying out the historic Wilson’s Pet Food brand name.
Craig Wallace is in the process of setting up two processing facilities in Blairgowrie and Perth to support his plans for Wilson’s.
The investment includes a £500,000 spend on new manufacturing equipment to ensure efficiency and strong production volumes.
Mr Wallace comes from a food manufacturing background and he acquired the Wilson’s brand name and its assets last year after the Dundee company behind it went out of business.
He is being supported in his journey to rejuvenate the brand – which has Pets at Home amongst its established client base – by Business Gateway.
The firm has refreshed its product range and is now looking to ramp up retail and wholesale market sales as well as establish a dedicated online portal.
“Our goals are to build on the heritage of the company by continuing to make food for working dogs and to expand into other areas such as cold pressed food manufacturing which we believe is the future of dog food,” Mr Wallace said.
“We will be launching our cold pressed range next month and although it’s more complex to make, the quality is far better as well as being healthier.
“At the moment, there isn’t a dedicated factory in Britain making this and instead most are importing from Europe, so we believe this will be a major growth area for us.
“Once both of our factories are fully running by October we have projected that we will achieve £8m of sales in the next three years across the UK.
“We will also focus on increasing the number of outlets throughout the UK that our products are sold in and eventually we want to add online sales to our portfolio.”
The company is projecting to grow sales to £8 million within three years and the two new manufacturing facilities are expected to create up to 20 jobs over the same timeframe.
“I’ve worked in food manufacturing for over ten years, first for individual companies then as a consultant for my own business,” Mr Wallace said.
“I’ve always felt there was a lot of potential in the pet food sector and when I discovered that the owners of Wilson’s were not looking to invest any further in the business I jumped at the chance to buy it.
“The existing equipment had to be destroyed and we moved premises, so in essence we bought the brand only, but it allowed us to really shape Wilson’s to our vision.
“There’s always been a healthy demand for Wilson’s and its reputation for supplying quality food for working dogs is something we plan to build on.”
Wilson’s former home at Dundee’s Stannergate is currently on the market.
The company first produced dog food products in 1861 and had mixed fortunes down the years under various owners.
The new iteration of Wilson’s will manufacture its dry pet food from an exisiting processing facility on a farm owned by a family member of Mr Wallace’s at Essendy near Blairgowrie.
The Perth unit is at the local council’s newly built out food and drink park at Muirton on the Tay.
Mr Wallace said the help offered by Business Gateway in getting Wilson’s Pet Food off the ground had been invaluable.
“We wouldn’t be in the position we’re in now if it wasn’t for the support we received from Business Gateway.
“Our adviser John McQueston has been a huge help, notably his knowledge of potential funding opportunities.
“John arranged for us to get an innovation grant from Scottish Enterprise which allowed us to work with a company in Norway to create our cold press recipe.
“We were also awarded an RSA grant of £50,000 towards our machinery which means our cold pressed products will be available from September which is fantastic.”
Mr McQuestion said it was great to see a product with such strong local heritage making a comeback.
“Wilson’s was once very dominant in the dog food market and it’s fantastic that Craig was able to step in and secure the future of a longstanding local business,” he said.
“Our expertise proved crucial as we were able to help Craig find essential funding that allowed him to make the necessary changes needed for growth.
“We also provided advice on marketing and developing the brand.”