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Pets at Home on the power of subscription and in-store services

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Pets at Home said digital was key to its business as it plans to become the specialist market leader for online pet care. It is also working to bring more services into its stores as it looks to make half of its sales there from services. 

The retailer, ranked Top100 in IRUK Top500 research, today reported half-year omnichannel revenues of £35.3m. That’s up by  45% on the same time last year, driven by easy repeat deliveries, subscriptions and the ability to order online from the store. 

Pet-led subscriptions

So far, 650,000 customers subscribe to at least one of its services, from online to vet and grooming salon plans. Its VIP puppy club, for example, gives its 185,000 members access to combined offers across retail, grooming and its vets practices. That figure, it says, is equivalent to almost 20% of the UK’s annual new puppy population. It has now launched a new kitten club as well. “These initiatives,” it said in its half-year financial statement out today, “show our ability to do the right thing for pets and win the loyalty of owners at the start of their lifetime journey.”

Its “easy repeat” services, meanwhile, enable shoppers to benefit from cheaper prices. After a period of price repositioning, Pets at Home says it is now “within 5% of our most competitive online peer on all comparable items” and “at the same price when comparing the items that we believe really matter”. Prices become cheaper when shoppers place repeat orders. 

Data insights

By connecting data across retail and the vet business, the retailer says it’s able to offer more personalised offers and serve customers better at the point of service. It is also using data across the business “to drive strategic decision making and automation”.

In-store pet services

Pets at Home aims to make 50% of its sales from pet care services, and its “stores of tomorrow” have more space dedicated to pet care, services and “a more engaging customer experience”. It is also recalibrating and developing its vet business. 

The update came as Pets at Home reported group revenue of £499.3m in the six months to September 27, up by 6.7% on the same time last year – or 5.3% on a like-for-like basis that strips out the effect of store, and business, openings and closures. Retail revenue of £443.7m was up by 6% (+4.7% LFL) while vet group revenue of £49.5m was 12.3% ahead (+11.9% LFL). However,   pre-tax profits of £8m were down by 80.5% on the £40.8m reported last time, after it set aside £29m to enable it to buy back joint venture vet businesses in the future. 

Chief executive Peter Pritchard said: “Since becoming the group CEO in May, I have had the opportunity to take stock of the wider group and shape my view of our future. What I have found fills me with confidence. Pets at Home is a healthy business and customers are loving what we do; responding to our price positioning, investment in digital and the amazing service delivered by our vet partners. We have the ability to offer almost everything a pet owner needs, giving us opportunities our competitors simply don’t have. Which is why my vision is to develop a complete pet care company, uniting our retail and vet businesses.”

Image: Fotolia

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