October 12, 2023

Natural Pawz Founders Have Reportedly Resigned

Natural Pawz Co-Founders Nadine Joli-Couer and Biff Picone have reportedly resigned from the company.

Joli-Couer left on July 21 and Picone followed on Aug. 21, respectively, a member of the Natural Pawz leadership team shared with Pet Insight on Oct. 11.

In March 2023 Joli-Couer and Picone came out of retirement when impending closures threatened the future of Natural Pawz – which they founded in 2005 – and the job security of 140 of its store associates.

When parent company Independent Pet Partners (IPP) declared bankruptcy in February – merely five years after purchasing Natural Pawz from Joli-Couer and Picone – the couple returned to the pet industry to buy back 16 Natural Pawz locations and purchase eight Kriser’s stores throughout Texas.

“We thought the sky was the limit and there was so much opportunity, and we are not alone in the world to say we were over burdened by debt,” Independent Pet Partners CEO Julie Maday told Pet Insight in a separate interview. “When you have to make tough choices, you come up with sets of options and you understand the risk tolerance of investors and owners and then you make a set of decisions that is best for your future. The most important thing to understand is we have made decisions, they are behind us, it was difficult. But what we are freed up to do now is lean back in with our teams and focus on growth, focus on culture, focus on communicating better, listening a lot more and we are still here for our pet parents where we have the opportunity to serve them.”

“Would I like to still be four brands instead of two? Absolutely!” Maday continued. “Do I think there’s a ton of opportunity to serve pet parents even better in some of the markets we’ve had to walk away from? Absolutely. But we have made a set of choices, we have made a set of choices that we think puts us on the best footing to win in the markets that we are in going forward and really do the best job we can do in serving our pet parents and that’s what we are going to do.”

Former Natural Pawz employees reportedly reached out to Joli-Couer and Picone to alert them of the impending store closures.

“They have put a lot of effort into making Natural Pawz what it is today, following our vision that we started in 2005,” Picone told media outlets. “We couldn’t let them be unemployed.”

“We could not just see that go away,” he added, “Our legacy, and the hard work for 15 years, we didn’t want it to just be wiped off as an afterthought.”

Upon their return to the helm of Natural Pawz, the couple and its distributor partners began restocking shelves and preserving the company’s identity as a local business. In addition to buying back the Natural Pawz locations from IPP, the couple purchased Texas-based Kriser’s store locations which Picone told media outlets would be converted to Natural Pawz stores.

“He and Joli-Coeur decided they are in the experience for the long haul, with no thought of ever selling again,” according to media reports.

This story will be updated as further details become available.

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