Gimborn has provided functional specialty pet treats for decades to 40 countries, most prominently Germany, the Netherlands, and Italy. Now, the European company is gearing up for a big market entry into North America—complete with a name change, new lines of products, and a proposed headquarters in Dallas.
Gimborn, a subsidiary of Germany-headquartered H. von H Gimborn GmbH, announced this week that it has established a U.S. team to prepare for a summer launch. It’s represented by three core brands in the international pet shop market—cat treats are most popular—and is mostly in Asia and the Middle East.
Joining more than 230 employees globally are three new North American team members: Timothy McMahon as VP of Sales, Christine Kirby as marketing director, and Anette Mardiroussian as regional sales manager of U.S. and Canada.
“We are planning to move the office to Dallas. I’d say it’s a 99 percent plan.”
Since this is the brand’s first-ever operations here, the team compares its current operations to that of a startup. Over the next year, there are plans to hire primarily sales and marketing positions, and there’s an incredibly high probability that will be out of Dallas. (As of right now, the U.S. team members are all remote).
“Like a startup, we’re really focused on sales, identifying distribution partners, and marketing. We’re building the brand. So we have had less of a focus on aspects such as procurement, and instead we’re relying very heavily on headquarters for other functions of a typical corporation,” Christine Kirby told Dallas Innovates. “We are planning to move the office to Dallas. I’d say it’s a 99 percent plan.”
She cited Dallas’ strong talent pool, especially with the heavy CPG industry presence and surplus of universities, central location, strong domestic travel, and low cost of living. Now, the next year is going to be focused on executing the U.S. launch flawlessly.
“Because we haven’t launched in the U.S. yet, we were really focused on investing in a new brand specific to the North American consumer, and really building that up to determine all the brand elements, such as look, tone, and feel,” Kirby says. “We just kicked off media, got our packaging, and are setting up with some different government bodies of the U.S.”
“People in the U.S. are looking for treats with an added health benefit that actually works for their pets.”
In June, a new brand name will be announced, since research showed the European branding didn’t resonate with the American buyer. The launch will be in two places: pet specialty, which is mostly independent pet brick and mortar retailers, and eCommerce, with a focus on Amazon.
“People in the U.S. are looking for treats with an added health benefit that actually works for their pets,” Kirby, who comes from the food and bev industry, says. “What I’ve noticed in the pet industry is that they pretty closely follow the trends on the human side. For the last several years, humans have been really focused on this idea of holistic health, so something that’s delicious and tasty, but that also gives them enough nutrition that they feel good about eating.”
In comparison to Europe and the rest of the world, the U.S. packaging and positioning will feel more pharmaceutical. Kirby describes it as being more of a supplement; the products are essentially treats with holistic health benefits.
“Pet parents are looking for something that’s their fur baby is going to love to eat—delicious, but it makes the pet parent feel good,” she says. “There’s an added health benefit, other than a multivitamin.”
Kirby says the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t slowed down the launch too much. From an internal operations and manufacturing standpoint, the team is full speed ahead. But some partners have decided to shut down or take a leave of absence, which could cause delays with doing business in the future.
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