History of the Pet Industry Federation

The Pet Industry Federation's early precursor was the Pet Trade Association, which was formed in the late 1940s. It was the early days of government regulation, the Pet Animal Act was under debate, and Sam Jacobs saw the need for an association to represent the pet trade. Membership was open to any business in the pet industry, be they retailers, wholesalers of manufacturers. When the Pet Animal Act was passed in 1951, all pet shops selling livestock had to be licensed by their local authority.

As the PTA became more retailer-orientated in the mid 1960s, a group of ten wholesalers led by Reg Simpson formed the National Association of Pet Trade Wholesalers to cover the needs of their segment of the pet trade. In the early 1970s, manufacturers were invited to join this association. 1972 saw the first convention run by the NAPTW which ran annually with seminars on finance, small businesses, VAT, computers: in fact, anything of interest to members. In 1977 the Association changed its name to the Pet Industry Association. Freddie Waffron was its first chairman.

In the early 1970s a joint qualification was started by the PIA and British Veterinary Association: the Pet Store Diploma. Students attended seminars, studied at home, and then took the examination at the BVA in London. After Sam Jacobs died and his wife Vera had taken over the PIA, she started a memorial fund in the name of her late husband to help educate people in the pet trade. This fund was then used in the late 1970s when the original Pet Store Diploma proved difficult to maintain. With help from the BVA, the University Federation of Animal Welfare and the Distribution Training Board, the PIA approached the National Extension College in Cambridge about running the exam. City and Guilds became the examining body, and the City & Guilds 776 Pet Store Management was launched as a home study course with an exam at a college each year.

In 1978, the PTA’s national organiser Eric Feasey contacted the PIA with a view to amalgamating the two associations. About this time, the Professional Groomers’ Association was formed by Ray Cook. The first grooming competition was held at the Pet Trade Exhibition in Harrogate. The first “Groomer of the Year” competition was held in 1981. In 1982, talks began regarding a recognized qualification for groomers. This was finalised in 1986 and in 1987 the first grooming exams took place: the City & Guilds 775 qualification.

Negotiations between PTA and PIA continued for many years, and in 1985 the Pet Trade and Industry Association was finally born, incorporating the PTA, the PIA and the PGA. Its stated objective was “to protect and promote the interests of all those engaged in the pet trade or industry.” 1987 saw the first edition of the Pet Trade Yearbook and Buyers Guide which is now published annually and distributed worldwide.

In 1989, the PTIA moved to Bedford and Barry Huckle took over as a secretary, a position he would hold for a decade. In 1991, the PTIA launched the City & Guilds 776 Pet Store Management course for people working in pet shops. There are now about 350 students registering each year.

In 1991 the PTIA and Dog World jointly organized the first Petindex exhibition. This merged the two main pet trade exhibitions held each year in the UK and established itself as the largest annual pet trade exhibition in Europe.

In 1992 the Association moved into new offices in Bedford, with the official opening in May 1993 by local MP Trevor Skeet. A year later, the Association began taking part in National Pet Week: the present-day Pet Care Trust is now one of three trustees who run this annual event.

In 1995, the Charity Commission granted the PTIA charity status, as in the past few years the Association had increasingly concentrated time, effort and funding into promoting responsible pet ownership, and had developed training and education programmes for the pet industry which set the standards for the rest of the world. In keeping with this new status, the name of the PTIA was changed, and at the start of 1996 the Pet Care Trust was born.

In 1998 the puppy referral system Puppyindex was launched. It was one of the biggest ever publicity drives for the Trust, with interviews on 41 live and recorded radio programmes and features in over 100 newspapers, including the News of the World. 1998 also the launch of the Trust’s website.

In April 1999, Barry Huckle retired after a decade of tireless service to the Trust. Perhaps inevitably, such an act was difficult to follow, and over the course of the next few years the Trust had three different Chief Executives. Nonetheless, the Trust continued to work hard on a number of issues including Parliamentary legislation, both on behalf of its members and the industry as a whole.

In May 2004, Janet Nunn, joined the Trust as Chief Executive. Formerly Director of Regulatory and Consumer Affairs at the British Retail Consortium, Janet began to recruit a new team. In May 2010 the organisation became a formal trade association (PCTA), with a charitable arm, the Pet Care Trust, to better reflect its aims and purposes, namely to provide a greater focus on services for members. This exciting move was accompanied by practical steps to ensure that members' interests are at the heart of the all the organisation's activities.
Janet left the Association in September 2012, and new CEO Nigel Baker took over from December 2012.
In March 2013, the Pet Care Trade Association was re-named the Pet Industry Federation and became the umbrella body for a number of specialist divisions within the pet industry. Its focus is to provide members with sector-specific benefits, and structural changes have made the organisation truly user-led giving memers greater influence through the association for each sector of membership. In 2014, the decision was taken to re-launch the charity, continuing the goal of properly educating the public to ensure the best welfare of their pets. At the same time, the charity was renamed The Pet Charity and any formal links to the Pet Care Trade Association (now known as the Pet Industry Federation) were ended; this included revisions to the Memorandum and Articles of Association, changes to the structure of the Board of Trustees and due notification to the Charities Commission. As such The Pet Charity and the Pet Industry Federation are two completely separate organisations; one is a national, public-facing charity and the other is a trade association for business members.

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