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New entrants want piece of booming industry


As the one product category seemingly immune to the ups and downs of the economy, pet products have been an attractive sector to companies outside of the pet business, and that continues to be the case as new players enter the growing field.

The latest company to take a walk on the wild side is JAKKS Pacific. The toy manufacturer has teamed with retailer Toys “R” Us to launch an exclusive line of pet products, including dog chews, toys, leashes and other accessories. The JAKKS Pet division products launched at all Toys “R” Us stores last December and it is looking for new opportunities in 2008. The product line is based on the American Kennel Club and Totally My Pet brands and features products like dog clothing and bedding.

“We’re excited to embark on this pet partnership with Toys “R” Us,” said Tony Lawlor, senior vp of marketing for JAKKS Pets. “These exclusive product lines are meant to appeal to families while engaging them in active play and participation in their pets’ lives.”

The Totally My Pet line includes fashion accessories like faux suede jackets, rhinestone collars, dog clothing and beds in purple and pink colors. The line is designed primarily for young girls and encourages them to pamper and care for their pets. “We worked with JAKKS Pacific to create Totally My Pet products for kids who treat their dogs like little divas and American Kennel Club Jr. for pet owners who take a more traditional approach to playing with their pups,” said Bob Giampietro, senior vp of trend and innovation for Toys “R” Us.

JAKKS is just the latest in a long line of disparate companies that have entered the pet product industry, which generated more than $40 billion in sales in 2007 and is expected to easily top that mark in 2008.

One of the most unlikely entries is from Harley-Davidson, which has created a line of dog clothing and accessories with the distinctive Harley-Davidson logo for owners who want their pets to share their passion for motorcycles. Products currently on sale at PetSmart as well as include leather dog hats and vests, toys, collars, leashes, bowls, dishes and custom ID tags.

Another odd entry is mail order giant Omaha Steaks. The company now has a branded line of Omaha Steak Pet Treats for dogs, including Steak Pet Treats and Canine Cookies available on its Web site. And jumping into the pet care sector is Paul Mitchell, best-known for its high-end hair care products. The company now has a line of John Paul Pet Shampoo that includes Tearless Puppy Shampoo for dogs with sensitive skin and Tea Tree Treatment designed for dogs that have problems with fleas, ticks or other biting insects.

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