West Paw Expanding into Petco
Starting in the second half of July, the company will launch a nearly full selection of its Zogoflex and Zogoflex Echo dog toys, along with two exclusive SKUs of its new Creamy Dog Treats, in the big-box pet specialty retailer’s brick-and-mortar locations. Petco’s e-commerce site will begin offering these products—plus a selection of West Paw’s Rowdies plush toys, collars and leashes, and Zogoflex Air dog toys—starting the second half of June.
“It has always been important that we have a diverse customer base made up of both chains and independent stores, going all the way back to when I began the company in 1996 and Pet Supplies Plus was our largest customer,” said Spencer Williams, CEO and president of West Paw in an interview with Pet Business. “So, this expansion into Petco is in line with our mission to bring safe, environmentally friendly products that create a great experience for consumers and their pets to more outlets where shoppers don’t necessarily know about West Paw. Over the years, we recognized that consistent growth allows us to bring new product innovation to retailers and also provides our Bozeman, Mont., factory and employees with new opportunity for growth.”
According to Williams, the following products will be available at Petco stores:
• Zogoflex dog toys in all shapes (except Rumpus), sizes and colors
• Creamy Dog Treats in two custom flavors (Peanut Butter and Blueberry, and Sweet Potato and Beef Bone Broth)
All of the above products will also be available at petco.com, plus:
• Zogoflex Air dog toys in all sizes and colors (Wox, Dash and Boz)
As for why West Paw specifically chose Petco as its big-box pet specialty retail partner, Williams said that the decision was driven by the ongoing evolution of the chain, including its decision to discontinue selling foods with artificial ingredients.
“I have been impressed with the executive leadership at Petco,” he explained, noting that the West Paw team has spent the past few years getting to know and understand the chain’s strategy and executives. “Like any company we want to work with, we wanted to see how their vision and goals aligned with West Paw. In this case, we ultimately felt like there was a great intersection between our desire for consistent growth, our need to reach our vision of getting our products in the hands of conscious consumers, and the evolution of Petco’s leadership in a great way. That all adds up to make this a great time to expand.”
While Williams acknowledges that moving into one of the big-box pet specialty chains is a significant development for West Paw, he insisted that it does not represent a shift in focus away from the independent retailers that have helped drive the company’s success so far.
“Of course, there will be [independent] retailers who see it as another concern, and we’re sensitive to the concerns of all our retail partners,” he said. “But what we’ve noticed over the years is that when we add a larger partner, the West Paw brand becomes more known to consumers, and this generally has the impact of driving increased sales in a lot of stores. Even after we made the announcement that we were moving into Target last year, we had several independent retailers tell us that when our brand visibility increases, it helps their consumers recognize and buy West Paw.”
According to Williams, West Paw remains committed to supporting its independent retail partners in a variety of unique ways. This includes generous margins, small ($50) minimum orders, a responsive team of sales support and customer experience professionals, product training guides, displays and other marketing resources, as well as a new partnership with Astro Loyalty, a customer loyalty program designed specifically for independent pet retailers. In addition, the company will continue to aggressively enforce its MAP policy across all retail channels.