Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Petcare brand Heads Up For Tails launches its first store in Singapore

Founder Rashi Sanon Narang speaks to Forbes India on the anticipated challenges of this new market, dealing with competition, and further global expansion plans

Naini Thaker
Published: May 31, 2024 02:54:26 PM IST
Updated: May 31, 2024 02:59:14 PM IST

Petcare brand Heads Up For Tails launches its first store in SingaporeRashi Narang, Founder of Heads Up For Tails at HUFT's Gurugram office. Photo: Amit Verma

Recently, petcare brand Heads Up For Tails (HUFT) announced its global expansion with the opening of its first store in the Singapore market. With close to 90 stores and 1000 SKUs in India, the company, founded in 2008, has established a reliable brand name for its innovative products and services for pets. Heads Up For Tails’ revenue from operations grew to Rs 312.8 crore in FY23 from Rs 215.6 crore in FY22. However, a 65.6 percent surge in the total cost led HUFT's losses to touch Rs 76.7 crore in FY23 compared to Rs 18.7 crore in FY22. 

After having tracked the market for over five years, Rashi Sanon Narang, founder of HUFT says, “We realised that the dynamics of the market lend itself very well for us—the market is very evolved, has high paying capacity, customers are looking for unique products and experience and have very little choice.” Given that she spent a couple of years living in Singapore, she knew the market fairly well. She adds, “We see Singapore as an extension of India—the business environment is extremely company friendly.” The 500 sq ft store in Singapore features over 1,000 products, including designer pet accessories, daily nibbles, gourmet treats, organic grooming, daily essentials, and personalised merchandise. 

Forbes India spoke to Narang about her plans to deal with the competition and further global expansion. Edited excerpts:

On the opportunity in Singapore

HUFT recognised a significant opportunity in Singapore's pet market, which is valued at approximately Rs 1,000 crore despite the country's small geographic size. This substantial market potential, combined with a demand for unique products and experiences, aligns perfectly with HUFT’s offerings. Our combination of high-quality products and exceptional customer experiences is ideally suited to meet the needs of pet parents in Singapore.

On dealing with competition

The market in Singapore is very mature and organised, primarily dominated by one large player. However, we see this as a ripe opportunity for disruption. Our strategy focuses on offering highly differentiated products and experiences, which we believe the market currently desires but lacks. By introducing unique, high-quality products and exceptional customer experiences, we aim to meet the unmet needs of pet parents in Singapore, positioning ourselves as a fresh and appealing alternative to the existing offerings. 

On strategic product-driven changes

Most of our existing product portfolio aligns well with the Singapore market, as we designed it with a global perspective from the outset. Our offerings boast unparalleled width and depth, catering to a diverse range of pet care needs. Our Singapore store includes a range of cooling products tailored for the local climate, such as cooling mats, bowls, and raincoats. Additionally, Heads Up for Tails is developing a special edition line for Singapore in the lifestyle and treats categories.

Also read: From a pet project to a massive brand, the tale of Rashi Narang's 'paw'sitive journey

On change in pricing

Our pricing strategy will be competitive to quickly capture market share and build a volume-driven business. We aim to offer excellent value, ensuring our products are accessible to a wide range of customers. Additionally, we plan to introduce premium products specifically for the Singapore market, reflecting the higher paying capacity and the elevated cost of operations. This dual pricing strategy will allow us to cater to various market segments effectively. 

On the anticipated challenges of the Singapore market

Our most significant challenge will be establishing brand recognition in Singapore. Unlike in India, where we had the advantage of being an early mover and have built our reputation over 16 years, we need to create the same level of buzz and trust in a much shorter timeframe.

The second is the cost of operations in Singapore will be much higher as compared to India. We are hoping to manage our cost structures efficiently to maintain competitive pricing without compromising on quality or customer experience. Heads Up for Tails: For the love of dogs

On further global expansion plans

Our expansion into Singapore has already begun to generate recognition among South Asian buyers, leading to inquiries from companies in Indonesia, Thailand, and Myanmar. While we currently do not plan to establish retail operations in these countries, we are enthusiastic about supplying our products to meet the growing demand. This will allow us to expand our brand presence and reach new markets without the overhead of setting up retail locations.

Besides Singapore, the UAE is the only other country where we plan to establish direct retail operations. In a short period, Dubai has emerged as a substantial market for us. Similar to Singapore, Dubai's market is sophisticated, with a high capacity for premium products and unique experiences. We believe our offerings will be well-received and appreciated by pet parents in Dubai, mirroring our success in Singapore. While we entered Singapore directly, we will be looking for a JV partner for UAE.