We are delighted to announce that we have invested £33m in Omlet, the fast-growing online design-led pet accessories brand on a mission to become the number one global brand enhancing the experience of owning a pet for owners and pets alike.
The business was founded in 2004 by James Tuthill, Johannes Paul, William Windham and Simon Nicholls, who met at London’s Royal College of Art where they completed a postgraduate course in Industrial Design Engineering. During their final year, they developed the Eglu, a revolutionary new chicken coop, which made it easy and fun to keep chickens in any garden.
The Eglu went on to win a number of awards, has been exhibited around the world and is even included in the permanent collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum. More than 125,000 Eglus have been sold to date and they have housed the feathered friends of broadcaster Chris Evans, Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussein and comedian John Cleese. Omlet’s products for chickens soon expanded and the product offering has evolved to cover additional core pet categories including dogs, cats and small animals. The business is based in Banbury, Oxfordshire and employs more than 60 people.
We have been especially impressed by the culture of the business and the strength of the wider team, including a 10-strong design department whose philosophy drives innovation and allows them to successfully release new products loved by customers all around the world (there are lots of pets in Omlet’s HQ to test new prototypes and ideas).
We were equally captivated by the community they have built. They have 150k social media followers and more than 4.2m views of their YouTube channel. Omlet receives almost 10k annual user generated interactions on its website and 60% of customers read its monthly newsletter. The brand also runs an ambassador programme where chicken coop customers provide first-hand feedback to potential customers (even, in some cases, inviting them into their homes), with more than 900 customer ambassadors in 10 countries.
With sales forecast to reach £40m this year, Omlet is well-placed to capitalise on a number of key global trends that have been driving growth in the premiumising £250bn global pet sector that we have been tracking for some years. People are not only owning more pets but are also treating them like humans.
Covid has further pushed people to reengage with nature and their families. We were struck that 83% of Omlet customers in our research thought keeping chickens is a good way to teach children about where food comes from and a nice way to connect with the family.
We look forward to working with the team to broaden their product offering in cat and dog accessories and deepen their relationship with their global community (40% of sales are in Europe and 25% in the US) and, by using their bespoke e-commerce platform that allows people to personalise their products, create a customer experience that is as good as the product.
It is the eleventh and final investment from our £123m Fund VI and fourth in the pet space across the last two funds, having already invested in Forthglade, Barking Heads and Bruce’s Doggy Daycare.
We are excited to start working with the team and the brand’s new Chairman and former CEO of Farrow & Ball, Don Henshall, to grow a truly global legend that makes people’s and pets’ lives healthier, happier and more fulfilling.