Pooch & Mutt CEO Guy Blaskey

Fast-growing pet treats brand Pooch & Mutt has sold a minority stake to Czech premium petfood player VAFO in a “multimillion-pound” transaction.

The deal sees VAFO taking a minority share in the company with the ability to take more over time, while providing both the funding and manufacturing capabilities for the brand to grow.

Pooch & Mutt founder Guy Blaskey will remain at the helm of the London-based business, with the support of VAFO’s Petr Kríz, who joins the Pooch & Mutt board.

VAFO is a long-time manufacturing partner of Pooch & Mutt and its “strategic investment” would enable the treats brand to pursue growth across Europe, it said.

Commenting on the brand’s first external investment, Blaskey said: “It has taken a long time to find the right deal and the right partner. With VAFO we now have access to the best manufacturing in Europe with the widest range of products produced by any petfood manufacturer.

“We are now part of a network of ambitious companies who share our values and make great products. Most importantly, unlike with many other investment deals, our goals are perfectly aligned, and perfectly aligned with our customers – we want to get more pets to eat great-quality foods, treats and supplements to help them lead their best lives.”

Pavel Bouska, CEO and the owner of VAFO Group, added: “I like to team up with people who share the same philosophy. The quality and sustainability of our products and its impact on the health of pets is at the centre of everything we do at VAFO.

“As we are predominantly producers, partnering with Guy Blaskey and Pooch & Mutt, who clearly share the same values and operate in the biggest petfood market in Europe, was only a natural step. Because we are a family company, our partnerships usually last for decades and not for years, as I am sure it will be in this case.”

VAFO had an annual turnover of around €260m in 2020 and opened its eighth manufacturing plant in May, as well as holding investments in companies in Germany, Finland, Sweden, Poland and Estonia.

The companies suggested that VAFO’s scale “opens up huge opportunities both for Pooch & Mutt to expand internationally and to bring a large range of innovative, new products to the UK market”.

Pooch & Mutt focuses on natural, functional products, such as its ‘Calm & Relaxed’ and ‘Health & Digestion’ treat ranges. It launched as a dog health supplement company in 2007 then moved on to treats and foods sold in Pets at Home, Sainsbury’s, Amazon, Ocado, independent pet shops and direct online.

The deal represents the latest in a flurry of M&A deals for UK petfood suppliers as demand for pet products has soared during the post-coronavirus period.

Last year saw US consumer group Spectrum Brands buy UK-based pet treat and toys specialist Armitage Pet Care for an enterprise value of £140m; MPM bought by private equity investor 3i Group for £125m; Forthglade sold to European investment firm IK Investment Partners for around £50m in September; Lily’s Kitchen (also previously owned by L Catterton) being bought by Nestlé Purina; and a £20m fundraising of online brand Butternut Box in February.