There is no doubt that we have been through unprecedented times in the last few months. Inspired Pet Nutrition (IPN) attended Crufts in early March with a skeleton crew and it was agreed that those who attended would isolate from the office for a week afterwards. In the following two weeks, the government announced lockdown and the sales of pet food – as well as toilet paper and hand sanitiser – surged beyond belief.
Due to manufacturing essential foods, our factories remained open and production was pushed to the max for several weeks. The IPN manufacturing team did a fabulous job keeping most lines in stock throughout.
The sales team took to working from home to be available to liaise with their customers and colleagues via emails and phone calls plus the new normal of Skype, Zoom and Microsoft Teams. The business moved quickly to safeguard the well-being of its workforce. Social distancing – helped by two metre tramlines – was enforced, accompanied by regular hand washing and sanitising/first aid stations and followed by adopting visors.
IPN also took to social media with the #thankyoupets video which was developed because we could see how uplifting pets were while on lockdown and we wanted to reflect that by celebrating the role our pets have played in keeping things very real and helping us out with cuddles and making us laugh with their funny ways. The video used footage of people around the country and hopefully raised a smile.
Throughout lockdown IPN experienced an increased demand for our products through both independent and online channels as customers opted for home deliveries and click & collect availability at their local pet shop outlets. Our wholesale partners managed a huge spike in sales and we are now seeing sales returning towards normal levels.
During this time IPN also decided to go ahead with plans to re-launch our Harringtons cat food range which now includes specific indoor cat and senior cat diets as well as the popular chicken and salmon original flavours. Our wholesalers have all been keen to list the new range which boasts freshly prepared meat/ fish ingredients and the packaging has been refreshed too.
Throughout the crisis IPN has also offered pet food donations to rescue centres that have been unable to fund raise due to the Government guidelines. Our aim is to deliver 250,000 meals by the end of June and this community support has been really well received. We have been able to help small rescue centres, as well as large established charities, that are all impacted by the pandemic and have been unable to re-home their animals during lockdown. Initially we focused support at centres nearby to our dog food manufacturing plant in Thirsk, North Yorkshire and our treats Bakery in Kinmel, North Wales and over time we have widened the catchment area.
I have really enjoyed being able to help in this way and feel that each and every donation has been really gratefully received. IPN have also supported food banks with pet food donations. Following our deliveries we have had lovely feedback, for example Lucie from Lucie’s Animal Rescue in Thirsk wrote, “Your kindness and generosity have been overwhelming. What an amazing delivery this morning. It is so wonderful having such amazing support during these difficult times and we are very grateful. As are all our animals.” I feel this sums up the feeling that we are doing the right thing in these unusual times!
IPN staff are now returning to the office with social distancing in place and screens installed to help keep everyone safe. We are all beginning to get used to this ‘new normal’ we find ourselves in. We would like to thank our retailers for their support in keeping the nations pets well fed and looked after in these difficult times.
By Gill McKenna at Inspired Pet Nutrition