By Karen Peattie

PIONEERING Scottish pet food company Bella & Duke has secured £7 million from a consortium of investors, revealing that it will move to a new 10,000sqft head office in Rosyth and base its distribution operation from its factory in nearby Inverkeithing.

Bella & Duke, which makes raw, natural pet food, has received a £5m injection from growth capital investor BGF, with the balance provided by existing shareholders including a further investment from Mobeus.

Mark Scott, co-founder and chief executive of Bella & Duke, said: “We want to change the pet food industry – we are a mission-driven business – and the funding will help us push ahead with marketing and educational activity around the benefits of feeding your dog and cat a diet that is raw and natural.

“We’re doubling in size each year and we are on target to double again this year so this will help us achieve our goals and expand capacity at the factory.”

Revealing that the company is currently testing a new cat food product and also bringing out a new pet treat range, Mr Scott said that moving Bella & Duke's distribution operation to Inverkeithing will help the business become more efficient as the location is on the edge of Scotland’s key motorway network.

Bella & Duke has experienced rapid growth to post revenues north of £11m in its last financial year and Mr Scott said it is targeting £50m in the next two years.

It currently delivers over two million meals per month across the UK and has seen its head count increase from 23 to about 100 over the last year although Mr Scott said that the pandemic had made it impossible for him to physically meet everyone.

Meanwhile, Peter Farquhar, the former chairman of natural pet food brand Forthglade, will join Bella & Duke as its chairman in June.

“Attracting this recent investment demonstrates the long-term potential for Bella & Duke and showcases the significant opportunity within the raw feeding category generally,” Mr Scott noted.

“Our mission is to provide all British dogs and cats with the best possible nutrition – raw food, with recipes tailored to take account of breed, life stage and any underlying health or welfare concerns.

“This funding round will enable us to continue growing and we’re delighted to be working with our investors for the next phase of the journey.”

Mr Scott added that the surge in pet ownership during the pandemic would help fuel further growth as pet owners are increasingly switching from mainstream brands to natural, nutritionally beneficial pet food.

He also alluded to the success of Bella & Duke’s subscription-based business model that delivers frozen food from the factory in Fife directly to customers’ homes across the country.

Graham Clarke, investor at BGF, said: “Providing consumers with high-quality raw pet food in a subscription-based model is proving a winning formula – and so we are delighted to be supporting Mark, Tony and the Bella & Duke team in their next phase of growth.

"We believe they are perfectly placed to deliver the new industry-standard of consumer pet wellness in Great Britain.”

Venture partner at Mobeus, Matt Mead, said Bella & Duke offered “huge potential”, adding: “We’ve worked with the business for over a year now and have been impressed by the brand’s commitment to transforming the pet wellness sector.

"We’re excited to continue working closely with them to grow the business even further.”

The business was founded in 2016 by friends and dog-lovers Mr Scott and Tony Ottley after their own pets died of terminal illnesses and agreed that existing mainstream pet food products did not give dogs and cats the best chance of enjoying long, healthy lives.

Bella & Duke's firm’s raw, natural petfood provides “notable health benefits to pets, with over 92 per cent of customers reporting an improvement in their dog within eight weeks and 99% of our customers reporting improvements in their dog’s bowel movements”.

Mr Scott spoke of the “remarkable” change in his border collie Trinity when she started eating the firm’s Superfood Enriched dog food.

“She was 13 and the change was remarkable,” he said, pointing out that Trinity is now 16 and has more energy than many younger dogs.

Since 2016, Bella & Duke has provided over 17.5 million meals to UK pets.