Pets at Home today showed the extent of its omnichannel growth in recent months as it issued a second update on third-quarter trading.
The retailer, ranked Top50 in RXUK Top500 research, said group revenue grew by 18% in total to £302m in the 12 weeks to January 2, compared to the same time last year, while like-for-like revenue, stripping out the effect of store openings and closures, came in at 17.5%. And while retail sales across all channels grew by 17.5%, omnichannel sales were 70.7% up on last time.
Sales made online or via multichannel services such as order in-store, accounted for 15% of retail during the quarter – rising to 18% during the November lockdown, when shoppers turned to its one-hour click and collect service to pick up from its 451 shops. At more than 150 shops, they could collect from their car, using a deliver to car service. At the same time, in-store sales grew by 12.3% on last year, compared to the previous quarter, despite the lockdown.
Vet group sales were 22.1% ahead of last time. Pets at Home continues to expect that full-year underlying pre-tax profits will come in at at least £77m, including the business rates relief of £28.9m that it has previously said it would repay.
Pets at Home group chief executive Peter Pritchard says: “Against a backdrop of continued uncertainty our pet care model remains robust, with our performance during the third quarter testament not only to the advantages of our scalable omnichannel pet care platform and unique joint venture veterinary model, but also the hard work and commitment of all our colleagues across the group, to whom I express sincere thanks.”
He says that at a time when Covid infection rates are rising, “I remain confident that the changes we have made to our business enable us to continue providing essential pet care to our customers in a safe and appropriate manner, not only through strict adherence to the protocols which we introduced across our stores and veterinary practices at the onset of the pandemic, and continue to strengthen, but also in a number of other ways, from contactless collection and delivery of pet products to virtual heath care consultations.”
Pets at Home says that it now has more than a million subscription customers, after numbers rose by 17.6% during the quarter, compared to last year. Subscriptions, which drive repeat sales, now account for more than £85m a year.
Loyalty was a key area of growth, with members of its VIP club up by 12% to 6.2m, year-on-year. More than a quarter (26%) of members bought across more than one channel during the quarter, while 61% of members who bought in its second quarter shopped again in the third quarter, and 18% of those new members bought across channels.
Puppy and kitten club members, who typically spend a quarter more across the business than non-members, grew by 47.2% in the third quarter.
The retailer says it was well-prepared to handle tariffs, logistics and other issues as a result of the UK’s full departure from the European Union. “We continue to monitor the situation in Northern Ireland to ensure continuity of supply and the smooth running of our operations locally,” it says in today’s statement.