According to local blog Love Belfast, Murphy and Bailey’s first bricks-and-mortar store has been opened by business partners Karen Breene and Judith Scott, who launched the company in 2019.
The business stocks goods from suppliers that include Irish Woollen Workshop for luxury sheepskin beds, Mud Ireland Pottery for food dishes, and Dribbly Yak, which has designed wooden pet-themed Christmas decorations.
In addition to pet gifts, Murphy and Bailey sells takeaway hot drinks and treats for both pets and owners.
The business partners told Love Belfast that they “believed it was the right time for them to open the store despite the challenges Covid-19 presents, as sales for pet-related products continue to rise”.
The store’s launch comes as the UK petcare market was estimated to be worth almost £7bn in 2019 by the Office of National Statistics, while research published last year also showed that Northern Ireland had the highest percentage of dog owners in the UK.
According to Love Belfast, these figures are thought to have increased since lockdown with people spending an increasing amount of time at home.
Breene told the site: “Although we are using skills and knowledge from our corporate careers it’s been a huge learning curve for both of us running our own business, but as passionate pet owners we are really excited about what we bring to the market.
“Since launching our online business last year we have seen high demand for lots of our bespoke locally produced goods like our Northern Ireland themed dog bandanas and our luxury sheepskin beds.”
She added: “Anecdotal evidence would certainly suggest that not only have more people welcomed pets into their families during lockdown but that they are also spending more time and money on their furry friends and we’ve seen the benefit of those trends in our business.”
Scott said: “We were always keen to have a physical store to meet more of our customers and although Covid-19 has meant that we are opening later than intended, we are thrilled to be able to welcome animal lovers and their dogs to our Belmont Road store now.
“We are limiting the numbers of visitors to our store at any one time and social distancing measures are in place but we believe that we can operate very safely if the public sanitise their hands on entry and remember to wear face masks – we have some beautiful dog-themed masks in the store too.”