David and Sallyann Gray, owners of Petpals Darlington and Yarm, one of the most successful franchises in the Petpals network and winners of the Top Franchise award in 2019 Petpals internal awards, have recently expanded their pet care empire, acquiring Petpals Stockton, which they had previously sold eight years ago.
The couple who currently employ over 20 staff, will now have territories that cover over 100 square miles from the west of Darlington to the east of Stockton on Tees. The new territory, Petpals Stockton, will be offering the full range of Petpals pet care services, including dog walking and boarding, cat visits and small animal visits and boarding.
Owner David said, ‘We had previously sold Petpals Stockton to Christine Duncan back in 2012 so we could focus more on Darlington and Yarm; lockdown gave Sal and I time to reflect on our business and both firmly decided we wanted to expand, so when Christine mentioned she was ready to sell the territory, it seemed the obvious answer to buy it and bring it back into the family.’
Talking about the hand-over Sallyann said, ‘It has been great getting back in touch with some of our old clients who we left with the business eight years ago and who are still clients today. We are hoping for a fairly seamless transition as Christine is going to remain as our dog walking manager, along with her two members of staff who are currently on flexible furlough.’
Commenting on the challenges of the past five months of the Corona Virus pandemic David said, ‘This has undoubtedly been one of the most challenging times of our business lives but despite everyone’s business levels being down, we’ve continued to take on new clients every month and are optimistic that we’ll be back to full strength soon. We have established strict protocols regarding caring for pets safely during the pandemic, from basic hygiene measures to hand over and collection systems. We leave nothing to chance and want to reassure people that we take the health of our clients, staff and pets extremely seriously.’
Sallyann said, ‘Being part of a franchise has really helped us weather the COVID-19 storm. The support we received from Head Office during lockdown was great, keeping us informed about latest guidance from DEFRA and the Government and guiding us through the financial support options available plus, just having the ability to pick up the phone to one of our fellow Petpals franchisees, to discuss routes forward, furloughing staff, or simply to offload and have a chat helped us both enormously; it would have been tough to go it alone.’
MD of Petpals Kevin Thackrah said, ‘David and Sallyann are a great example to all franchisees. They are 100% committed to their staff, their clients, the pets and ultimately, their business. They are wonderful ambassadors for the Petpals brand and are unfailingly generous in their support of everyone in the network, sharing their knowledge with everyone.
‘COVID-19 has indeed been a very challenging time for many but as ever David and Sallyann have taken it in their stride, adapting and amending as we all learn to work with this ‘new normal’, a true reflection of their professionalism.’