Lily’s Kitchen client story

Founded by Henrietta Morrison in her kitchen in 2009, Lily’s Kitchen describes itself as a ‘challenger brand – pet pioneers’ on a mission to inspire pet parents to feed proper food. Measured in terms of profit alone, Lily’s Kitchen is an out and out success. In 2019, the company was awarded The Royal Warrant from HRH The Prince of Wales for supplying dog food for at least five years, with an ongoing trading arrangement. Acquired by Nestle Purina in 2020, Lily’s Kitchen has become an internationally recognised £100 million retail brand across 6,000 stores in 30 countries, enabling many more pets around the world to enjoy Lily’s Kitchen recipes.

The Lily’s Kitchen parallel success story is guarding the triple bottom line: People, Profit and Planet. This case study brings Lily’s Kitchen’s backstory to life, sharing insights behind the brand’s many achievements, their well-deserved reputation for innovation and why they’re also one to watch in the future.

lilys kitchen

The early days

Lily’s Kitchen realised that the B Corp values were completely aligned with their own mission and therefore it made strategic sense to become one. They became one of the UK’s founding Certified B Corps when B Lab launched in the UK in 2015: “Certified Goodness – doing the right thing”. They were the first pet food company in the UK to be certified. They recertified in 2017 and again in 2020.

Amy Bourbeau, B Corp Expert and Seismic Cofounder, has actively supported Lily’s Kitchen throughout their whole B Corp journey.

Initially, Lily’s Kitchen completed the B Impact Assessment (BIA) on their own. The BIA is a tool providing a judgment (via an objective, comprehensive rating) on the significance of a company’s current impact. And companies need to score a minimum of 80 points in order to be eligible to certify as a B Corp. On their first attempt, Lily’s Kitchen scored below 80 and, at this juncture, they invited Amy on-board.

By leveraging her B Corp expertise, Amy was able to help Lily’s Kitchen to:

  • Revisit their BIA in greater detail and accurately pinpoint their baseline data – giving them a realistic starting point from which to embark on their journey to B Corp certification. As Amy reassured the Lily’s Kitchen team, achieving B Corp certification is a tough, but ultimately worthwhile, journey with many challenges and opportunities for learning and growth along the way.
  • Share timely advice, ensuring that they avoided easily preventable mistakes, saving them precious time and resources.
  • Help the company embed their existing positive practices into the business which, due to the steep growth trajectory, had yet to be formalised. The B Corp certification ensured that the business could continue growing with their original core values intact.

The added value of being a B Corp

Since it successfully certified, with Amy’s guidance, Lily’s Kitchen has – and continues to – reap the benefits from being a Certified B Corp.

For example:

  • Successfully applying for the sustainability-focused The Royal Warrant from HRH the Prince of Wales. This means that Lily’s Kitchen is listed in a directory of suppliers to the Royal Household. The application process was easier as Lily’s Kitchen had much of the required data and evidence to hand, having collected it for their B Corp certification.
  • The fact that Lily’s Kitchen was already a B Corp has had a positive impact on its ability to scale. In particular, it was one of the contributing factors for attracting investment into Lily’s Kitchen. When Nestle Purina acquired Lily’s Kitchen in 2020, one of the conditions was that Lily’s Kitchen should maintain its B Corp status; Nestle Purina clearly recognised the value of this.

Why recertification matters

“Not only is B Corp a strategic framework, it also provides an ethical compass and is a North Star to help a company stay true to its purpose in the longer term”.

Amy Bourbeau, Leading B Corp Expert and Cofounder of Seismic

In addition to balancing profit and purpose, since the onset of the pandemic: “B Corps have arguably fared better when compared to the wider-UK economy. B Lab…has seen its mission-locked businesses outperform their non-certified peers”. PwC

As a trusted long-term partner, Amy has twice assisted Lily’s Kitchen to recertify. In her experience, this can be a challenging time for companies; they can never rest on their laurels. However, this brings valuable learning and opportunities. The B Corp framework’s emphasis on social and sustainable impact remain both constant and relevant, a useful anchor when navigating periods of transition, such as when Lily’s Kitchen underwent a change of senior leadership and on joining the Nestle Purina group.

Looking to the future: what next?

Lily’s Kitchen are currently working on their third recertification and focusing on continuous social and environmental improvement. Their latest impact report is due to be released soon, so keep an eye out for it on their website.

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