(last updated July 2019)
What has been happening in the pet grooming sector
The UK pet industry has become a multi-billion pound businesses, with pet owners regularly spending large sums on pampering their animals. Pets are often now treated as one of the family, and the range of luxury products and services available for animals reflects this.
All this is no bad thing for the pet grooming industry. Grooming is essentially a luxury service that many pets (and owners) could manage without (or at least do themselves), so it's a good thing for grooming businesses that people are happy to spend money on their pets regularly.
A trend that has been less positive for the grooming industry has seen 'high maintenance' pets like dogs fall from favour somewhat, as busy people with little time on their hands have opted for 'lower maintenance' animals like cats and fish. Nevertheless, dogs are still among our best friends in the animal world, and there are still plenty of households that just couldn't be without their faithful pet dog.
The 'humanisation' of pets and the wish to give them treats and pamper them has driven increased spending on pet grooming. In the mid 2010s Pets at Home, the national pet shop chain, reported that pet grooming has boosted their annual sales significantly, leading them to open a number of grooming rooms in their stores. By 2018 they had over 290 grooming rooms in over 440 stores, with plans to open more stores in the best locations to capture further market spend. Their plans include opening new superstores which will have vet practices and grooming salons in them. Although the economic downturn from 2008 to 2012 led to some owners opting for less frequent grooming or doing it themselves, Pets at Home report that the pet market is generally more resilient than the general high street and their income has grown despite the economic uncertainty caused by the protracted negotiations for leaving the EU due to the willingness of pet owners to spend on their pets, even when having to cut back on non-essential expenditure. They have reported, however, that their expansion plans are being affected by a shortage of vets in the UK and that the position has become more difficult as a result of the Brexit vote.
Although the market has proved to be resilient in the past, bear in mind that it has been predicted that people will have fewer pets over the next decade due to families having fewer children and many living in rented accommodation.
There has recently been some controversy over breeding and pedigree standards, with some claiming that they inflict cruelty on certain breeds of dog. Pedigree dog owners are important customers for most pet groomers, so anything that affects the world of dog breeding and showing is likely to have some sort of impact on the industry.
A revised Animal Welfare Act was brought in during the mid 2000s. Codes of practice for the welfare of cats and dogs were introduced under the Act in 2010. The codes provide animal owners and keepers with information on how to meet the welfare needs of their animals, as required under the Act.
Recent years have seen a number of stories in the news about low standards and accidents involving unqualified, inexperienced and even incompetent pet groomers. So it's more important than ever to ensure that you and any staff are properly trained and qualified, and stick to the highest standards of professional conduct at all times.
Keeping up to date with developments
Joining a trade association is an excellent way of staying up to date with developments in your industry.
The British Dog Groomers Association (BDGA) is part of the Pet Industry Federation (PIF) and has a good practice charter for groomers which its members must abide by. Visit the grooming section on the Pet Industry Federation website for further information.
Subscribing to a trade journal is another excellent way of staying up to date. For example, Pet Business World News magazine is produced specifically for professionals working in the pet industry. You can find out more and get contact and subscription details on their website.
You can get a lot of useful information by visiting a trade show for the industry. You will be able to meet suppliers and plan your future stock and equipment buying. The Exhibitions UK website includes details of forthcoming exhibitions in many different industry sectors.
PATS is one of the biggest trade events for the pet industry. You can find out more on the PAT Show website.