Barking Heads

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Barking Heads's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Barking Heads is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Rachel’s Labrador, Hector,
comes to the office eery day and
thrives on Barking Heads
Managing Director Sarah
Kaye and Sales Director
Rachel Duffy-Wyatt
surrounded by their product
and dogs Daisy and Hector
Pet Food UK was launched in 2008 with two central aims:
exceptional quality dog and cat food, wrapped up in a
disruptive, irreverent and engaging brand. From there,
the Barking Heads and Meowing Heads brands were born.
The pet food market was, and indeed still is, flooded with
pet food packed with cereal fillers and limited quantities of
meat. By contrast, both brands’ championed high quality and
quantity meat-based food, supplemented only by good-quality
vegetables – exactly what every dog and cat needs to live their
happiest and healthiest life. Rachel Duffy-Wyatt, Sales Director
at Pet Food UK, tells
TheParliamentary Review
Five years or so down the line, we added to the Pet Food UK portfolio by launching
the AATU brand. Exceptional quality and distinctive branding unite the portfolio,
but AATU recipes are even higher in meat quantity: it is an expertly engineered
performance food for dogs and cats.
The AATU and Barking Heads brands continue to demonstrate outstanding growth,
both in the UK and internationally. The key to their success is resonance with
broader trends evident across market.
The changing face of pet ownership
You only need to take a quick walk around your local park to appreciate that dog
owners increasingly treat their dogs as they do their children. Designer collars and
leads as well as personalised ceramic dog bowls were only the start.
»Managing Director: Sarah
»Sales Director: Rachel Duffy-
»Established in 2008
»Based in Hemel Hempstead
»Services: High-quality cat and
dog nutrition
»No. of employees: 29
»The dog on the front of our
Barking Heads bags is called
Bailey. We have a full family of
dogs, including Bramble the
puppy and Dave the “fat dog”
Barking Heads
Highlighting best practice
We refer to this trend as humanisation,
but this term is only a crude label that
doesn’t quite do justice to the huge
emotional role pets are beginning to
play in our lives. Dogs no longer keep
to the kitchen, rather having their own
comfy chair in the living room. They
are no longer called Spot, but instead
Andrew or Hugo.
They no longer sleep at home during
the day but instead go to doggy day
care or – of course – our workplaces;
our own office is no exception, having
a vibrant canine community. In line
with this trend, owners want to feed
their dogs healthy, natural, high-
quality, high-meat food. Indeed, 55
per cent of dog owners say that they
would forgo their Netflix subscription
or even chocolate in order to afford
top-quality food for their dog.
All this points to a pet food market
dominated by high quality brands like
Barking Heads. Though our growth is
tremendous, premium pet food share
of trade is still only about one-quarter.
Over 75 per cent of shoppers currently
think they’re feeding the best food
possible. Given the composition of
many big brands, this is evidently not
so. There is, therefore, a significant job
for us to do in terms of education.
We are on a Jamie Oliver-style mission
to expose the nation to what really
goes into most standard pet food,
and help them to understand the
difference a high-quality, high-meat
food like Barking Heads can make. You
need only read product testimonials on
Trustpilot to recognise the difference
our food can make to dogs and –
importantly – owners.
Recognising these trends to
great success
We are a company of dog owners
and lovers, and we imbue our brands
with this spirit, helping us to achieve
resonance in markets beyond the UK.
The humanisation and premiumisation
trends extend across western and
eastern Europe, and are particularly
prominent in lots of Asian markets.
More so than you might see in
London, affluent millennials in South
Korea, Japan, Singapore and China are
struggling to find the time or square
The AATU dog brand is
bold and striking
You only need
to take a quick
walk around
your local park
to appreciate
that dog
treat their dogs
as they do their
footage to accommodate a child. For
many people, the next best thing to a
child is a small dog or cat. Naturally,
the emotional focus on this pet means
that owners pay huge attention to the
quality and composition of its food.
Not only is there significant category
resonance between our brands
and shopper priorities in many
Asian markets, but they are also
demonstrating enviable growth.
Levels of pet ownership in established
European markets are either flat or
growing on a minor scale – generally
five per cent or lower – but in
China, for example, there is 38 per
cent growth in the number of cats
and dogs. In conjunction with our
continued focus on UK distribution and
household penetration gains, we are
also shifting gear with respect to our
not-insignificant export business.
We have built strong brand equity
in the UK through a combination of
exceptional quality, expertly crafted
product and disruptive and engaging
branding. Our focus internationally
will now be on supporting our brands
in some key markets where we know
or judge there to be a high degree of
shopper relevance.
Remaining a market leader
with high-quality pet food
Our business approach has always
been to take the bull by the horns, and
so we have not let Brexit uncertainty
hold up our plans to accelerate
growth internationally. We are actively
undertaking a project to spread our
manufacturing and supply chain
capability across the globe in order to
ensure that our customers, shoppers
and – of course – our consumers are
able to achieve no disruption in supply.
Production of very high-meat pet food
is technically very difficult, and there is
by no means a glut of manufacturers
able to produce to the level our brands
command. This exercise has therefore
also afforded us a high degree of
supply robustness as we are not
over-reliant on any one manufacturer
and have good relationships with all
those able to support the quality we
Barking Heads and AATU were market-
leading when they launched, and our
ambition as a business is to retain this
pedestal. Central to this ambition is the
conviction we have in our products –
we really do make the very best food
for dogs and cats. We strive daily to
support education in our category, and
it is our business mission to use our
engaging brands to make high-quality,
high-meat pet food accessible to all.
We know that shoppers in the UK
and across the globe want to feed
their dogs and cats the very best food
possible; we have positioned our
brands, our product and, of course,
our supporting supply chain as best we
can to enable us to do this.
We have built
strong brand
equity in the UK
through a
combination of
quality, expertly
crafted product
and disruptive
and engaging
Barking Heads prides
itself on its range’s
disruptive colours

This article was sponsored by Barking Heads. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster