A dog-owning couple have set up a new franchise delivering premium quality pet food door to door to customers in the Preston area. The new business forms part of Bolton-based Heights Farm Premium Pet Foods’ operation, which has seen rapid expansion in the north of the country in the past six months.
Alison and Steve Critchley, who have been married for over 31 years and live in the Rossendale Valley with their beloved Saluki, Chance, have run various businesses over the years and have also had their separate careers.
Together they owned a grocers off license in Church, just outside Accrington and for 22 years, Alison has worked as a Teaching Assistant working with children in the primary sector. Steve also worked in transport for over 40 years and for the last 15 years has owned his own road haulage company.
Alison has wanted to change jobs for quite a while but never really knew what to do. She explains: “I have always loved animals, especially dogs, so I then started to look at different franchises with animals in mind. Quite a few left me disappointed and I began to lose interest in ever finding the right one. Then in February this year we saw Stephen, the Founder of Heights Farm and chatted for a while about his products, we got our dog a sample or two and went home. We then went on their website to find out more about their hypoallergenic food range for Chance and saw that there was an opportunity to buy a franchise and downloaded a prospectus. We read all about it and were so impressed at how the company had grown from their own beloved dog, Milo having allergies. At this point we were already interested.
“The following month, March, we went back to the Farmers Market in Helmshore and spoke to Carole who is the franchisee for the BB postcode area. We chatted to her for a while, asked lots of questions and she told us the PR area was available and to give them a ring. So we arranged a meeting and more or less straight away decided this was the opportunity I’d been looking for. Stephen and Sarah say that the third time you see Heights Farm you’re more likely to buy something but for us the third time we saw them we bought a franchise! I think one of the things that impressed us the most was how Heights Farm Pet Foods is a family run business and the passion they all have for what they are doing and I wanted to be part of that family!”
Stephen Ward, founder and owner of Heights Farm Premium Pet Foods, set up the company in response to his own experience of the pet food industry when his Douge De Bordeaux Mastiff, Milo started to develop a number of allergies which started to make his life very tough. Despite being put on a prescription diet by the vet and taking a course of steroid tablets, the vet bills started to mount and Milo’s itchy skin condition continued once he stopped taking the tablets. Prolonged use of steroids could also have had serious side effects such as liver and kidney damage and it was only after switching to a salmon- based hypoallergenic dry food that many of Milo's symptoms started to clear up.
“For the first time Milo was actually happy, his patchy coat had started to heal and the redness had almost gone. Stool quality was also greatly improved. It turned out that Milo was in fact wheat and wheat gluten intolerant.
“It was at this point that we felt our dog had been almost held in a state of disrepair. We contacted the veterinary practice explaining that the root cause of Milo’s condition was the wheat- based food that they had been supplying us. Every meal consumed was a trigger and the steroid was then the expensive sticking plaster that never actually fixed anything.
“This experience got us thinking how many more pets and pet owners had been in the same situation as ourselves?
“Poor Milo relied on us for his health and wellbeing and we had been passively making things a whole lot worse through misguidance at considerable expense.
“So after lots and lots of research and investment we decided to come up with the most amazing hypoallergenic blend of complete dry food that would in effect be a health food for dogs and cats with a very special and clinically proven ingredient-Green-Lipped Mussel. The extruded kibble is exposed to a steam process that gives a honeycomb texture inside, aiding digestion. The complementary natural ingredients such as Kale, Carrots & Peas, Yucca, Rosemary, Seaweed etc. also complete this natural dry food.
“Trials were carried out and the samples went down a storm. In May 2009 we took the brave step to establish our very own premium pet food company named after our family home Heights Farm Premium Pet Foods. The product range starts from puppy through to adult with proteins such as Chicken, Lamb and Salmon. We believe that if your animal benefits from the Green-Lipped Mussel daily you build an excellent bone and joint structure that will support your animal well throughout all life stages. There is no need for a senior type of product although we do offer our Dietary+Plus food which is great for maintaining/losing weight. Our products come in 2kg and 15kg sacks and are very keenly priced within the premium graded equivalents.”
Heights Farm has enjoyed steady and consistent growth through word of mouth. The model is based on a very personal one to one service, with unique products, not available on the high street, at a keen price and giving outstanding customer care levels, with a convenient delivered to the door service. Heights Farm Premium Pet Foods supply nationally with a next day delivery service and internationally within 2-3 days delivered by their courier network and offer free delivery within Blackburn, Burnley, Clitheroe, Bolton, Bury, Manchester and Districts, Oldham and Districts, Preston and Districts, Todmorden, Wigan, Rochdale Oldham Halifax, Keighley and Skipton areas from their fully liveried and kitted out Ford Transits.
Heights Farm offers sample packs which allow pet owners to try before they buy.
For further information on setting up your franchise visit the Heights Farm Premium Pet Foods website: www.heightsfarmpetfoods.co.uk