Lockdown puppy boom grows Blackpool Business

Recent expansion of a Blackpool-based dog treat company has meant the company has been able to meet an unexpected surge in demand for Christmas goodies as a result of the boom in pandemic puppies.

When owner Michelle Turnbull moved the Barking Bakery to the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone towards the end of 2019, she had a clear plan to take her doggy treats to national success.

But even with meticulous planning, Michelle couldn’t have anticipated a global pandemic that led to 2.2 million new ‘lockdown’ puppies being bought in the UK – and an enormous increase in demand.

Barking Bakery creates hand-baked and decorated cupcakes, cheesey biscuits, pupcorn and its signature personalised ‘pawty’ cakes exclusively for dogs. Products are distributed online and via national retailers including Pets at Home, The Range, Booths and Ocado.

As the pandemic progressed, it became clear to Michelle that this Christmas would mean an even bigger surge in festive treats sales. To help her meet it in a controlled way, she turned to Blackpool Unlimited’s Growth 4 Business (G4B) service.

Together with high growth business advisor, Donna Taylor, Michelle created a plan to manage the growth by increasing manufacturing capacity and flow, accessing funding and helping the business and its staff to become more efficient and more effective.

Michelle said, “Through Donna’s vast knowledge, experience and expertise in manufacturing, we were able to access various funding grants through Blackpool Council and other bodies. This has allowed us to purchase much needed equipment enabling the bakery to up production, improve drying time and employ another 4 members of staff.”

Donna said: “It’s been my pleasure to work with Michelle and her team. This is such an innovative brand which is rightly experiencing growth. To be able to introduce Michelle to initiatives, contacts and funding and to see the plans implemented has been hugely satisfying.

“It’s been a collaborative process with support from Pete McOnie of Made Smarter, and the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) whose specialist manufacturing expertise has been invaluable.

“This is a business that will continue to grow and create jobs for our town for years to come.”