Online Editions

27th Nov, 2021

Alcester firm jumping for joy after horse treats business takes off

AN Alcester company is revolutionising the market for horse treats in the USA – and is set to mount a drive for sales in Europe.

Husband and wife team Kevin and Mary Elizabeth Nairne founded Kelcie’s Horse Treats in 2019 to offer high-quality, natural treats to high-calibre horses that take part in equestrian events.

Kevin gave up a 30-year corporate career in IT to move into the equestrian industry with Mary Elizabeth, who manages her sister and Olympic gold-medallist Laura Kraut.

After seeking advice from Laura and fellow Olympic champion Nick Skelton, they decided to move into the treats market and came up with a product made of 15 natural ingredients.

Finding a company to manufacture the product in the UK or the EU proved difficult, so they turned their attention to the USA and found a partner.

And their treats proved an instant hit with horses and owners alike – all they needed next was a formal business plan and marketing strategy.

The company was introduced to the University of Warwick Science Park’s Business Ready programme by the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub earlier this year and received advice from business growth adviser Gaynor Matthews.

Business Ready is a programme that delivers support to expanding businesses managed by the business support team at the University of Warwick Science Park and is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Warwickshire County Council.

Gaynor supported the firm directly and introduced the company to experts who offered strategic sales and marketing advice, followed by a digital marketing plan to grow sales and distribution in the USA followed by the EU.

The firm was also given business planning advice by Innovate UK Edge and, having turned over $40,000 in its first year, it reached $100,000 in its latest round of accounts, with plans to double that again over the next 12 months.

Kevin said: “We found the right formula to create a great treat and horse owners who told us their horses were previously fussy eaters, loved the product.

“Then it was all about getting the right marketing plan in place to make sure we could achieve the sales growth we wanted.

“The Business Ready programme was a big support in that and we’ve also had really helpful advice from other organisations too.

“I’d definitely encourage other businesses to tap into the support available. You can see how much it’s help us from a sales point of view and the growth we’ve achieved.”

Gaynor added: “This is a classic case of a company creating a great product but then needing support in planning and marketing.

“Through Business Ready, we could introduce Kelcie’s to people with the right expertise to help develop the right strategies – especially around marketing – to help increase awareness and drive sales.”

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