Vetfleece, which started out as a retailer of fleece for sick and recuperating animals, soon found that demand for its products was far outweighing the supplier’s ability, so the company made the decision to manufacture the fleece in-house. It began making its own fleece in 2016 and received trademark protection in Europe and the USA.
By 2018, the company wanted to innovate further to supply new shapes, sizes and designs to the market. The company was finding that too much manpower and time were taken up cutting and packing the fleece, which was all being done by hand. This was hindering how much fleece the company could manufacture and therefore stopping the business growing. They also wanted to be able to complete small batch runs to test new ideas, and to be able to offer bespoke styles to larger customers.
Vetfleece was introduced to the Product and Process Innovation (Papi) project in 2018 by the local council. Papi is a European Regional Development Fund project delivered by the University of York. The project provides 40% grant funding for equipment on projects over £20k to support SME businesses in York, North Yorkshire and East Riding to innovate through new processes and new products.
The Papi project was able to provide Vetfleece with a 40% grant to purchase three new machines. The new machines are able to cut the fleece in to pad sizes, allowing a more efficient production line.
Vetfleece is also now able to test different patterns and develop new fibre compositions.
Cat, business development manager at Vetfleece, said: “We would definitely recommend this grant from Papi – they’ve been absolutely fantastic from start to finish, and completely guided us through the process.”
Since receiving the funding and equipment, Vetfleece has developed new paw print designs for its products, which are distinctive from the generic offer on the market. The new machinery has also reduced the volume of the Vetfleece product by 60%, which has a financial and environmental impact in terms of packing efficiencies saving plastic, miles and cost of storage, materials and postage.
The equipment has enabled them to increase the amount of products produced and therefore how much they can sell. The company has also created one new full-time job.
Vetfleece is continuing to look towards the future, with further plans to link with other local companies and also to open the mill to educational visits.
Innovative companies such as Vetfleece can benefit from funding from the Papi project. Up to £20k funding is available for SME businesses in York, North and West Yorkshire and the East Riding.
vetfleece.com | 01262 606100