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Alcester horse treat firm is galloping ahead in America

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AN Alcester-based husband and wife team have found a ready market for their horse treats in the USA – and have now got Europe in their sights.

Kevin and Mary Elizabeth Nairne founded Kelcie’s Horse Treats in 2019 to offer high-quality, natural treats to high-calibre horses that take part in equestrian events.

Kevin gave up a 30-year career in IT to go into the equestrian industry alongside Mary Elizabeth, who manages her sister and Olympic gold-medallist Laura Kraut.

Inspired by both Laura and Nick Skelton, they decided to move into the treats market.

They came up with a product made of 15 natural ingredients but after struggling to find a company to manufacture the product in the UK or the EU, they found a partner in the States and found they had an instant hit with horses and owners alike.

At this stage they hadn’t got a business plan and marketing strategy but got help from business growth adviser Gaynor Matthews via the University of Warwick Science Park’s Business Ready programme by the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership Growth Hub.

This support for expanding businesses is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Warwickshire County Council .

Gaynor supported the firm directly and introduced the company to experts and, having turned over $40,000 in its first year, it reached $100,000 in its latest round of accounts, with plans to double that again over the next 12 months.

Kevin said: “We found the right formula to create a great treat and horse owners who told us their horses were previously fussy eaters, loved the product.

“We had produced something that could disrupt the market but then it was all about getting the right marketing plan in place to make sure we could achieve the sales growth we wanted.

“The Business Ready programme was a big support in that and we’ve also had really helpful advice from other organisations too.”

He added: “It wasn’t originally the plan to crack the US market first but because we found our manufacturing partner there, it was much easier to sell there than to import back into the UK and Europe.

“However, we are now in the process of establishing ourselves in Europe because we know from our website and social media that there is very strong demand.”

Gaynor said: “This is a classic case of a company creating a great product but then needing support in some of the fundamentals of business – such as planning and marketing.”

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