Pet Gazette March 2019 - Page 8

8 | PET GAZETTE | PIF VIEWPOINT Nigel Baker, CEO of the Pet Industry Federation, discusses how the association has evolved and adapted over time T oday’s Pet industry Federation (PIF) is a very different trade association to the one that was formed in 1951. The types of businesses that now make up the UK pet trade, and indeed PIF, have dramatically changed since its inception. Today’s PIF’s members are sole traders, partnerships, limited companies and PLCs and include retailers, manufacturers, distributors, kennels, catteries, home boarders, dog walkers, pet sitters, consultants, media, schools and colleges. In fact, nearly 2,000 businesses and their branches are PIF members and their combined sales are in excess of £1bn. At the heart of PIF is raising standards in welfare and business. PIF members are accountable because by placing the annual membership sticker on the door, the public can trust them and register a complaint to the Federation if they believe standards have slipped. PIF members sign up to the Federation’s charter and when they appear on My Pet People (PIF’s public facing web portal), there are secondary charters or promises of what the public can expect from a PIF member. Businesses that are part of PIF can also benefit from membership benefits. Today these number over 20, and range from PIF Print, where members can obtain huge discounts on their printing requirement, to a free legal helpline, tax help for sole traders, specialist insurance, telecom discounts on calls and broadband, card processing, templates for licensing compliance, discounts on legal documents and many more. While most of PIF’s benefits are aimed at businesses, we felt it was important to introduce some personal ones too, on wine and chocolate. They are proving very popular. PIF represents its members at local and national government levels. Our Primary Authority partnership with the Corporation of London means that we are well connected with local authorities, and you can join Primary Authority for free as a PIF member, which enables adjudication and help on licensing issues. The association also sits on the steering committee of the Canine and Feline Sector Group (CFSG) which advises Government on behalf of the sector on strategically important dog and cat issues and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare (APGAW). PIF was also invited by CFSG to join DEFRA’s Expert Panel on Animal Activity Licensing (AAL) and maintains its seat on the panel to review and update the guidelines on AAL. The assocation has recently published the Professional Dog Walkers’ Guidelines in conjunction with Dogs Trust and the RSPCA. Professional Guidelines for Pet Groomers will follow shortly. At the heart of we are raising standards in the pet industry, so that the industry is professional and well informed. It is important to the Federation that businesses flourish while due regard is given to animal welfare and best business practice. To this end, PIF’s education department offers a range of courses and qualifications for pet businesses, and PIF also has a joint venture with Hadlow College to manage their two pet grooming schools. The association also has an exclusive number of private schools where grooming, and more recently, reptile welfare is taught. PIF was instrumental in setting up the National Reptile Welfare Centre at Hadlow College before handing it over to The Pet Charity. Pet businesses rely on personal contacts with people – our trade is very people orientated so the opportunity to network is important. PIF’s British Dog Grooming Championships (BDGC) and the Pet Industry Federation’s Forum and Awards (PIFFA) are two events where people can meet, learn and discuss. However, in April 2020 PIF will do more when it will bring together these two events, plus education and trade at one event over two days in central England. This will be the opportunity for all types of pet business and people to interact, learn, buy and have fun at our already renowned awards evening. More information on this will be available shortly. And for manufacturers, PIF has recently signed a joint venture agreement with a Chinese company to help PIF members access the Chinese pet market – a market which is growing rapidly and with a strong demand for UK pet products. So, there is a lot going on at the Pet Industry Federation. As a trade association, we are there for our members and will continue to provide benefits, education and networking opportunities to raise standards and help businesses flourish. The Pet Industry Federation remains the hallmark for professional pet businesses. March 2019