Doggie daycare becoming big-time brand-name business

Amy Nichols founded Dogtopia in 2002 with a single outlet in Virginia. Her vision of a doggie daycare, overnight boarding facility and canine spa, yes, spa, quickly took off. Dozens of franchises opened across the United States with revenue reaching $16-million last year. An investment firm jumped aboard and now, Dogtopia is aiming for 400 locations around the U.S. and Canada within the next few years.

It just stuck a paw north of the border with the help, not surprisingly, of a real estate pro.

Peter Thomas, who founded Century 21 Real Estate Canada, is bringing the concept to Canada with a 50 per cent share of the company and the regional rights, according to BC Business. Dogtopia’s first Canadian outlet just opened in Coquitlam, B.C., with room for 60 dogs, and a location in Calgary, Alberta is opening soon.

“The expansion forms part of Dogtopia’s aggressive growth strategy to open 40 more locations across Canada in the next 7-8 years,” the company said in a statement.

And, that’s no bold statement. According to the Canadian Pet Market Outlook 2014 Report, pet spending reached $6.6-billion last year, and is pegged to hit $8.3-billion annually by 2018. About 57 per cent of Canadian households own pets. (Almost $53-billion was spent on U.S. pets in 2012, and there were about 78.2 million dogs.)


Thomas, now Dogtopia chairman, saw that pace of spending, yet what he considered lack of standardized and safe daycare options, and reached out to Nichols.

“She had created a nice little franchise company with about 20 stores and had developed the systems and the controls necessary to run a franchise, which I had a lot of experience in,” Thomas told BC Business recently.

In Dogtopia’s announcement of the Canadian expansion on Nov. 20, Nichols said the brand will resonate.

“With Canadians spending more than ever on their pets, we want to be able to offer them a safe and fun environment for their four-legged friends from a name they can trust,” she said.

h/t BC Business Photos Dogtopia/Facebook

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Recovering newspaper reporter.

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