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Pets at Home combines retail and services – and boosts omnichannel sales by a third

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Pets at Home today said its omnichannel sales rose by almost a third in the first half of its financial year as it focused on meeting its all customers’ pet-related needs. 

The pet care retailer and services provider, ranked Top100 in IRUK Top500 research, reported half-year omnichannel revenues of £46.5m – 31.7% up on the same time last year. Group revenues of £546.3m were 9.4% ahead in the 28 weeks to October 10. Retail revenues came to £479.8m (+8.1%) while vet group revenues of £66.5m were 19.6% ahead. Pre-tax profits came in at £34m, 327.3% up on last time, and reached £37.3m after one-off costs. The retailer said the rise in profits reflected the strength of underlying retail trading and also included a significant reduction in a charge relating to the recalibration of its First Opinion vet business.

Combining retail and services

The retailer is one year into its pet care strategy and it says that continues to deliver strong results. “By providing the complete pet care experience to customers, we are able to strengthen our position and deliver market share gains across all segments,” it said in its strategic update. “We have seen growth across our pet care ecosystem in H1 FY20 – whether that is in Puppy and Kitten Club members, online and offline transactions, subscription numbers or vet practice new client registrations; pet owners are shopping with us more than ever before.” About 60% of omnichannel transactions involved a store-based member of staff, it said, while more than a third (35.4%) of customer sales came from pet care services. 

Pets at Home says it is seeing more customers take up its offer of complete pet care. Some 16% of its 5m active VIP club members now buy both products and services from it, while more than 790,000 customers have subscribed to its pet treatments. The retailer uses customer data both to personalise its communications to customers and to make sure it has the right products in store.

“Alongside our new pet care centre format, we have been able to deliver increased sales from less space and a fewer number of products,” it said. “By applying this new approach to ranging in upcoming store refits it will enable us to maximise sales whilst creating new experience and events areas within the stores giving customers even more reasons to visit.” The new pet care centre format, initially trialled at two stores, was extended to three more during the first half, and the retailer says it will refine and optimise the format as part of its store investment.

Peter Pritchard, Pets at Home group chief executive, said he was very pleased with what had been achieved in the first half of the year. “We have executed our plans well, and this has been reflected in the strong customer sales growth across the group. Our commitment, and that of the group’s joint venture partner, is to make sure pets and their owners get the very best advice, care and products; and this has led to record levels of VIPs, First Opinion practice clients and subscription customers. In short, our pet care strategy is working.”

He said that retail sales were showing sustained momentum, at a time when Pets at Home was also recalibrating its vet business. 

“All this provides a strong foundation, meaning we have much to look forward to in FY20 and beyond, and we now expect to return to profit growth a year ahead of our original plan,” he said. “In the meantime, we will remain focused on serving our customers, their pets and our partners better than ever before.”

Pets at Home sells online and from 452 stores, many of which include vet practices and grooming salons. Over the second half of the year it plans to open up to five new stores, grooming salons and vet practices. 

Image: Fotolia

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