As you promenade down La Croisette in Cannes, one of the more amusing sights is ladies of ‘a certain age’ with a furry head protruding from their handbag. The fashion accessory almost concealed from view is usually a chihuahua, occasionally a miniature poodle.
If there’s such a thing as reincarnation, I want to come back as one of these pampered pooches. They are allowed to walk a few metres to get some exercise, but as soon as they start panting or feel threatened by a normal size dog they are scooped up to the safety of Madam’s designer bag.
Cannes has a couple of shops specialising in accessories for the dog about town, including designer coats, diamond studded collars and hand-made mahogany beds. The must-have 2019 accessory is a branded hoodie with tailored holes for Fifi’s ears to poke through.
All this attention clearly goes to a canine head – how can a 12” high dog look down its nose at me so condescendingly? There even seems to be a bit of a class war going on between the tasteful accessories favoured by the ‘old money’ pets and the in-your-furry-face excesses of the ‘nouveau riche bling’ brigade.
It could never happen in Britain, could it? Guess what, it already has! Just down the road from the Elite Investor Club offices in Richmond is Posh Pups, offering coiffure to the canine elite of Kew Gardens. So successful are they that they have just acquired the shop next door to double their premises and a second vehicle to carry their four-legged treasures. Yes, the little darlings are picked up from your door, taken to the centre in a Posh Pups van and returned to you looking like a supermodel. A basic cut and blow dry starts at £40, and you can easily spend £100 if you want nothing but the best for little Fido.
Pets are clearly the new children. Something on which to lavish love, attention and oodles of cash. Whether its empty nesters looking to fill the gap when the offspring head to Uni, or the increasing number of singles who’ve given up on Tinder and are looking for love of a more reliable kind. Pets are big business, enough to be the main feature in Money Week magazine a few weeks ago.
One upshot of this has been the frenzied gold rush of consolidation in the veterinary sector, with big players like CVS Group paying eye-watering multiples to buy High Street vets practices. Another is the rise of companies like Tails.co.uk where you can design your own bespoke food mix to optimise your Labradoodle’s nutrition. There have even been two new ETFs launched in America to enable investors to play this trend – no surprise that one of them has decided to call itself Gabelli Pet Parents.
Last year, Americans spent over $72 billion on their pets. That must be almost a Mexican wall’s worth. Over here, you’re looking at a spend of £17,000 over the life of a dog and around £12,000 for Tiddles the cat. I suspect those are historic averages, and that the people of Kew are probably spending closer to that every year. If you want to start a part time business, think of some outlandish new gizmo that any self-respecting mutt might need and offer it to establishments like Posh Pups. You will struggle to make enough of them to meet demand.
Meanwhile, if you’d rather join the ladies on La Croisette, we now have two studios available 2 minutes from the Hotel Martinez where Daphne and I bumped into Eva Langoria a few years ago. “Gee, aren’t you Graham and Daphne Rowan?” she said. In my dreams…
Until next time.