(Above) World Pet Association’s board chairman
Michael Twain awards outgoing president Doug
Poindexter with the Matsui Lifetime
(Left) Poindexter honors Nancy Bertagna, who is retir-
ing from WPA after more than two decades on the staff.
Poindexter Earns Matsui
 Michael Levy (left) of Pet Food Express and Michael
Di Tullio of Especially for Pets honor Charlie Nelson
(center) of KLN Family Brands.
[ 2] Bryan and Dan Nieman of Fromm Family Foods are
proud to be recognized by their retailer partners.
[ 3] Michelle Granger addresses the gathering of independent pet retailers.
CONTINUED ON PAGE 46
BY JENNIFER BONCY
Several pet food manufacturers pledged their commitment to the specialty channel and trumpeted their decision to cease selling products on Chewy.com—the major e-commerce site purchased by PetSmart this spring—at a gathering of executives from more than 30 pet specialty retail operations representing approximately 1,400 stores at a meeting at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center
in Las Vegas on Monday.
Representatives from three major product manufacturers, Fromm Family
Foods, Champion Petfoods and KLN Family Brands, attended the meeting by
invitation from retailers, who have been gathering informally during major
trade shows since last year to discuss common concerns such as e-commerce
pricing practices. The executives discussed their decision to pull products
from Chewy.com—a move meant to give independent pet retailers a fair shot
of competing at a time when mega-e-commerce sites are offering consumers
discount pricing that brick-and-mortars cannot hope to match.
Charlie Nelson, president of KLN Family Brands in Perham, Minn., the
maker of NutriSource, PureVita, Natural Planet and Tuffy’s brands, said the
company is no stranger to making tough decisions in favor of its independent
retail partners, having done so in the past by pulling product from retailers
that Petco purchased. So when PetSmart announced its acquisition of Chewy.
com, KLN was quick to respond, he said.
“Within 24 hours, we made our decision,” Nelson said about the compa-
ny’s move to remove its products from the online seller. “We walked away
from a lot of business.”
He further pledged that KLN would maintain its e-commerce pricing at 10
percent above its suggested retail pricing in an effort to help level the playing
field for its brick-and-mortar partners.
“We are steering business in your direction,” he added.
Bryan Nieman, brand director of Mequon, Wis.-based Fromm Family
Foods, expressed a similar sentiment to the room full of retailers.
“We’re 100 percent committed to independent pet,” Nieman said, adding
that growth in the industry is rooted in the independent retail channel.
“Everything we do—all of it—is to support you guys,” he said.
Michelle Granger, director of marketing of Champion Petfoods—the Edmonton, Alberta, Canada-based maker of Orijen and Acana brands, which
has U.S. headquarters in Auburn, Ky.—said she was there not only to reaffirm
the company’s commitment to pet specialty stores, but also to solicit their
support and encourage partnership.
“This is our channel,” Granger said. “This channel belongs to us. No one
is going to defend it but us, and nobody will grow it but us.”
Many of the retailers present at the meeting applauded the manufacturers
for taking strong measures to support the independent channel.
“They all made a decision to walk away from a tremendous amount of
business for the right reasons,” said Michael Levy, founder and president of
Pet Food Express, a 63-store chain in California.
Retailers at the meeting also lauded the companies for taking a strategic
move based on the idea that the growth of pet product brands is dependent
on the independent retailer channel.
“They know that brands are built from brick-and-mortar,” said Dino Fragaglia, president of Global Pet Foods, which has 172 stores throughout Canada, adding that the recommendations made at store level are “critical” to the
success of pet brands.
“You won’t have that relationship with a computer online,” Fragaglia
Pledge of Allegiance
Manufacturers abandon PetSmart-owned Chewy.
com to further support independent pet specialty