How a deal with Checkers grew a natural pet snack business in eight months

Nhlanhla Dlamini, Maneli Pets founder. Picture: Supplied

Nhlanhla Dlamini, Maneli Pets founder. Picture: Supplied

Published Sep 23, 2022


The Shoprite Group announced it had its eyes on the R7 billion pet sector in South Africa earlier this year and is showing no signs of slowing down.

One of the company’s products, the natural pet snack business Maneli Pets, has grown its employee count from 35 to 55 people in 18 months following access to the Checkers’ consumer market through its standalone Petshop Science stores.

Maneli Pets initially struck a deal to supply the first Petshop Science store located in the Fairbridge Mall in Brackenfell, and its Happy Hounds products sold out within the first weekend.

Nhlanhla Dlamini, Maneli Pets founder, says the initial plan was to slowly start supplying more Checkers and Petshop Science stores, but the enthusiasm for his products rapidly changed these plans.

“We were meant to grow at five stores a quarter, but within roughly eight months, we were in over 270 Checkers supermarkets nationwide. Our Happy Hound products are now also available via Petshop Science online.

“This roll-out was unheralded,” says Dlamini. “It speaks volumes as to how serious Checkers is about this category and how committed their buyers are.”

Maude Modise, GM: Enterprise Supplier Development for the Shoprite Group, said: “In the current economic climate, we need SMME’s to help drive growth and create much-needed jobs.

Nhlanhla Dlamini, Maneli Pets founder. Picture: Supplied

“Our group understands the key role we can play in the success of these small suppliers through the access we offer them to our large consumer market to grow their businesses,” Modise adds.

Although Covid-19 ended many of Maneli’s international deals, it ironically accelerated business in South Africa.

“By 2022, we reached a deal with Checkers that would change the face of our business," Dlamini further said.

And with increasing pet ownership, he expects business will continue soaring.

One of Maneli Pets products, Image: Supplied.

Earlier this year, the Shoprite Group announced it was expanding its e-commerce presence by taking its Petshop Science brand online.

This comes as the pet economy continues to grow in South Africa – in one year Petshop Science has opened 22 physical stores across the country.

With the pet sector in South Africa now worth over R7 billion, the group continues to expand its pet-related offerings.

It launched pet insurance in 2020 and now offers SA’s most affordable pet insurance, from R69 a month.

In 2021, the group became the first local retailer to open standalone Petshop Science stores.