'We are really being crushed out of existence': Renewed call by catteries and kennels for industry assistance

The catteries and kennels industry is building momentum to help ensure its survival – with one Scottish company boss saying the industry is “absolutely on the point of collapse” due to a lack of adequate government support.
An industry survey found that seven out of eight owners have seen their business fall by 75 per cent or more. Picture: Crowbank Kennels and Cattery.An industry survey found that seven out of eight owners have seen their business fall by 75 per cent or more. Picture: Crowbank Kennels and Cattery.
An industry survey found that seven out of eight owners have seen their business fall by 75 per cent or more. Picture: Crowbank Kennels and Cattery.

Fiona Yehudai, who along with husband Eran runs Crowbank Kennels and Cattery on the outskirts of Cumbernauld, flags the launch today of SOCKS –short for “save our catteries and kennels” – providing help and resources to owners of such businesses to help them petition their elected officials.

It aims to help an industry that is crucial to the economy, and the travel industry in particular, but “failing” – according to Mrs Yehudai.

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She has surveyed more than 120 firms in the industry regarding the impact of Covid-19 – finding that seven out of eight owners reported that their business had declined by 75 per cent or more, with two in five experiencing a drop of more than 95 per cent.

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Furthermore, three out of four businesses said they are currently either closed, empty, almost empty, or open only for emergencies – and many adjoin the owners’ homes, so if it folds, they would also lose their home.

"We are an industry that is really being crushed out of existence,” she said, noting that such firms haven’t been told to close. “We're just very, very stuck –and there doesn't seem to be any way forward.”

Mrs Yehudai spoke in December about the difficulty she and peers have had on the back of the drop in people going on holiday – now exacerbated by doubt over whether holidays can go ahead in 2021.

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"As things stand, that means that as an industry, we're potentially looking at not being able to be in business normally for another year, and most people are finding that very difficult, because all that's happening for us in the industry is... digging ourselves into more debt,” said Mrs Yehudai, who has had to lay off 12 staff from her own business.

The industry is “basically getting hung out to dry,” she said, adding that many companies are also suffering a lack of demand for daycare services as people are not leaving their homes to work.

Among supporting SOCKS is Maureen Cuthbertson, who along with her husband is owner of Bucklyvie Cattery in Cowdenbeath, and wants to see the industry classified under the hospitality and tourism banner, as that’s where 95 per cent of it income originates. “We are a supporting arm to them.”

She said that the sector has seen all avenues of revenue dry up – and like Mrs Yehudai, she has been busy contacting politicians in a bid to get the industry’s concerns and woes recognised. “I've got grave concerns for the future of the business – everybody's business, not just my own business.”

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For 20 years she has built her business up from scratch, but it has lost more than 85 per cent of its income. "It would be really soul-destroying, really horrible, to mothball or to close up or anything like that.”

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