“We received a recommendation from one of our investors who knew Goodwille and their long history of helping Nordic businesses with their expansion to the UK. We were not disappointed – Goodwille really understands how Nordic clients think and operate. It’s been very beneficial to us to have a local partner who has in-depth knowledge of the UK market environment yet understands the Swedish accounting landscape.”
Axel Lagercrantz, CEO
Rehoming a pet in a trustworthy,
safe and convenient way
Pets4Homes is the UK’s most popular pet marketplace for private individuals, responsible breeders and rescue centres with over 7 million Britons using the site every month. Founded in 2005 and acquired by Swedish Pet Media Group in August 2019, the platform helps over 1 million pets to find a new home every year. From the outset, founders Axel Lagercrantz and Eyass Shakrah have been guided by one important mission: making the process of rehoming pets more trustworthy, safe, and convenient. This mission has been backed by some of Europe’s leading growth capital funds including Verdane Capital, Otiva, 183 Invest, and Back in Black, in addition to a number of prominent business angels. The Group is also the proud owner of Hästnet.se, which is Scandinavia’s largest equestrian website.
Entering the UK
Pets4Homes caught Pet Media Group’s attention thanks to its dominant market position and strong brand, which was known for its trust and safety even before the acquisition. But coming from a Nordic country, is operating a pet marketplace different in the UK? Axel does not think so: “Regardless of the country, our users are people who love animals. They are very engaged and feel strongly about owning an animal. Rehoming a puppy or a horse is quite an emotional process – it’s not like buying a piece of furniture but takes a lot of time, effort and research. So, I would say the similarities outweigh the differences.” And there is no denying that the UK is a good market if you are a pet business. According to a Statista survey, a staggering 41 per cent of UK households owned at least one pet in 2020 with dogs (9 million) and cats (7.5 million) ranking in the top two.
Although the user profile is relatively similar between the UK and Sweden, the practical aspects of doing business still vary considerably. Therefore, when acquiring the leading UK online marketplace for pets, Pet Media Group turned to a local partner who understood both the local business environment and the owner’s Nordic roots. Axel describes how they found a suitable business partner for their needs: “We received a recommendation from one of our investors who knew Goodwille and their long history of helping Nordic businesses with their expansion to the UK. We were not disappointed – Goodwille really understands how Nordic clients think and operate. It’s been very beneficial to us to have a local partner who has in-depth knowledge of the UK market environment yet understands the Swedish accounting landscape.”
Pet boom amid
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent mass homeworking, many animal lovers have rushed to buy a new pet. And it’s understandable – many studies have proven that caring for your furry friend is beneficial to your mental well-being. Most recently, a new survey from University of York showed that pet owners have coped better with COVID-19 lockdowns. Nevertheless, the numbers are quite incredible. Throughout June and July 2020, more than 150,000 animals were rehomed via Pets4Homes.
Axel explains: “People are more than ever keen on getting a pet. Previously, it had not been easy to combine pets with work, but now an overwhelming number of people are banned from going to the office. Homeworking means that many things with a new pet are easier, such as house training your new puppy. And when you can’t see people that much due to various restrictions, your four-legged friend can provide good company during this time. We do caution our users, however, to think about how they will combine work with owning a pet once life goes back to normal and restrictions are lifted.”
Swedish innovation improving
the security of online transactions
The welfare of animals and safeguarding the transactions on the platform has always been a top priority for Pets4Homes. However, the coronavirus-spawned surge in demand drove this need even further. It gave a boost to the development of a new Deposit Service, which aims to offer better peace of mind to all parties involved in the rehoming process. This is a significant change to the way Pets4Home operates since the recent imbalance between supply and demand has led prospective owners willing to pre-pay large deposits, consequently leading to the risk of exploitation.
Axel illustrates how the new Deposit Service can help make the process more secure: “Previously what happened was that the seller or breeder would ask for a deposit, which the buyer would then place directly into the seller’s bank account. However, the buyer transferred the deposit before they had seen their prospective pet for the first time. For obvious reason, this was not a very safe way. To solve this issue, we introduced a new kind of deposit functionality, which allows the buyer to pay the deposit into a third party escrow account where it remains until both parties confirm they are happy to go ahead with the sale.”
Leaving the administrative side to Goodwille has meant that the company can focus on developing the platform while knowing that the compliance side of the business is in good hands. Besides the Deposit Service, Pets4Homes have various other measures in place to ensure the safety of the buying process and the well-being of animals. For example, the platform requires licensed breeders to submit a copy of their licensing details and each seller to confirm their UK-based phone number. Each advert is manually reviewed to ensure that it abides by the company’s strict animal welfare standards and not every advert passes this test – in fact, the Pets4Homes’ Trust & Safety team have to decline 40% of new adverts because they do not meet the requirements. Pets4Homes also upholds the Animal Welfare Act, Lucy’s Law and PAAG’s minimum standards, and is actively petitioning the Government to ban unethical importing of puppies to prevent the abuse of animals and puppy farming.
The acquisition of Pets4Homes is part of Pet Media Group’s strategy to become the dominant marketplace in Europe for pets. There is no shortage of online pet marketplaces, but not every platform is equal in terms of the safety standards and requirements they follow. Therefore, Pet Media Group is aiming to acquire more pet marketplaces in the future and bring them to operate in the same kind of best-in-class manner than its other platforms. Due to its strict security standards and the constant improvements in user experience, Pet Media Groups ensures it stands out from the crowd and makes the whole rehoming process as convenient as possible.
Read more about Pets4Homes here.