Luxury Dog Hampers' Suffolk founder scoops small business accolade

Karen Rhodes of Luxury Dog Hampers and Theo Paphitis at the ICC in Birmingham

Coddenham businesswoman Karen Rhodes of Luxury Dog Hampers picking up her Small Business Sunday award from Dragon's Den star Theo Paphitis - Credit: tprg studio

An Ipswich dog owner who launched luxury hampers for canines has picked up an accolade from Dragon's Den star Theo Paphitis.

Luxury Dog Hampers founder Karen Rhodes scooped a Small Business Sunday award for her efforts in March 2021 but waited a year to be presented with her certificate at the ICC in Birmingham in February.

Karen, 43, of Coddenham, near Ipswich, tests her hamper treats on her dogs Bertie the Collie and Arthur the Newfoundland.

Karen Rhodes of Coddenham with Arthur the Newfoundland

Karen Rhodes of Coddenham tests her hamper treats on her dogs Bertie the Collie and Arthur the Newfoundland. - Credit: Skip50

“The pet industry is thriving so it’s really important I stand out as a small business owner and being recognised for my hard work by Theo helps me to stand out from the competition and let more people know about my products," she said.

“I only set up the business in 2019 just before we went into lockdown and almost didn’t continue with it after losing my dog Bailey who was the inspiration for the business.

“Over the last three years there has been hundreds of stories about people in the pet industry making a difference so it’s amazing to have been chosen by Theo.”

Dog ownership has flown through the roof during the pandemic, with the UK dog population climbing from about 9.5m to 12.5m while the cat population has swelled from 7.5m to 12.2m, according to the Pet Food Manufacturers Association.

Bertie the Collie, of Luxury Dog Hampers

Karen Rhodes of Luxury Dog Hampers tests her hamper treats on her dogs Bertie the Collie and Arthur the Newfoundland. - Credit: Skip50

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Statista estimates that £6.2bn was spent on pets in 2021 - £2.9bn on food, £2.1bn on vet care, £900m on accessories and £300m on grooming.

Small Business Sunday is weekly initiative set up by Theo Paphitis in 2010 and has made 3,000 awards to date.

Theo Paphitis said: “I wish Karen and Luxury Dog Hampers every success.”