Morecambe's dog treats firm bouncing with joy after being listed as the fastest growing online brand in the region
Childhood friends Darren Clunie and Andy Irvine are feeling "pawsome" after their dog treats business was listed as the fastest-growing online brand in the North West.
The duo, who run "Bounce and Bella" online, have topped a league table compiled by Bristol-based tech firm BrightPearl. Researchers tracked growth rates for hundreds of online businesses across the UK who registered for inclusion in the "Lightning 50" poll with Bounce and Bella recording a net growth of a whopping 290%.
Darren and Andy grew up in Lancaster and attended the city's Scotforth St Paul's Primary School and then Lancaster Royal Grammar School.
They were out of touch during their university years as Darren studied at Lancaster University while Andy attended the University of Manchester, however, the pair met up again a few years ago when they discovered they were both living in Galgate. Subsequently, Bounce and Bella was launched in the autumn of 2017 and has since gone from strength-to-strength.
Speaking about their joy at being acknowledged by Brightpearl's Lightning 50, Darren said: "Being recognised as one of the Lightning 50 fastest growing companies in the country (and #1 in the North West) really has a moment of vindication for our efforts to make no-nasties and peace of mind for pet parents our central mission.
"We stopped selling some profitable items a couple of years ago as we developed the no-nasties mission. It was a big leap to take that chance and believe in what we were doing, but we’ve always been very close to our customers and they were incredibly supportive of the decision.
"Placing Number 1 in the North West in the Lightning 50 fastest growing companies awards makes us feel surer than ever that we’re doing the right thing and if we keep listening to our customers we’ll only improve."
Darren went on to explain how the business has expanded since it launched four years ago and now boasts a global customer base.
"We started out selling a standard variety of treats, but I developed a sensitivity to grain and some of the digestive issues I faced I recognised from our previous dog Sorrel. As a result we began sourcing grain free treats with just a limited number of ingredients so that pet parents could more easily see what they were feeding their dogs.
"We developed a policy of no-nasties and used a minimum of ingredients so that dog owners could stop worrying about what they were feeding their pups - our aim was to bring peace of mind to pet parents. We then went on to develop a range of single ingredient treats, grain free food with fresh meat and just a few weeks ago began selling our own range of raw dog food."
"We sell throughout the UK on our website and Amazon and up until the beginning of the year were also selling within Europe. Unfortunately, the change in paperwork needed to get food stuff into Europe and Northern Ireland caused difficulties and ten months later we’ve now just begun to export again."
Looking to the future, Darren and Andy are keen to develop a new type of dog food which contains more fresh meat. Darren explained: "We’re very optimistic that we’ll be able to grow quickly in Europe again as soon as they go back on sale. That’s one of our main focuses over the coming 12 months.
"Our other main focus is developing a new range of dry dog food with more fresh meat, ingredients that are sourced only in the UK with great provenance stories and the best farming practices including grass fed lamb and free range chickens."