Pets at Home has seen in-store and online sales increase since the start of the covid-19 pandemic and now expects annual profits to beat expectations.
In a trading update, the UK’s largest pet retail group said it had experienced an ‘exceptional’ level of demand due to the coronavirus outbreak. This was due to existing customers increasing their average basket size, by pulling forward purchases, as well as new customers buying pet products and requiring animal healthcare services.
The company said its previous investment in omnichannel capacity, new customer acquisition channels and subscription services had allowed it to meet the sudden increased demand. It added that disruption to the Far East supply chain had stablilised fairly quickly, with minimal impact on stock levels.
Maintaining that the Pets at Home balance sheet was ‘resilient’, the FY2020 Trading Update added that the company had strong relationships with banking partners but said it would remain vigilant around funding, cash preservation and capital in view of the ‘prevailing backdrop’ of market conditions.
Group CEO Peter Pritchard said: “While the financial year has undoubtedly ended strongly for Pets at Home during this unprecedented time, the period ahead is uncertain for us all, and the company will not be immune to these challenges that we collectively face.
“I am extremely grateful that our colleagues and operations have shown such resilience and flexibility to meet the recent exceptional level of demand from both existing and new customers.
“As ever, in difficult times consumers turn to trusted brands and advice, and that is why we are working tirelessly to ensure that we continue to provide essential products and healthcare services for the UK’s pets.”
The retailer said it has removed all but essential travel for staff and had adopted alternative working arrangements, procedures to protect the health and safety of staff and customers and was offering advice and support to staff on maintaining good health and wellbeing.
It has also closed its Groom Room salons and implemented social distancing measures across its operations.
Nearly all of its First Opinion veterinary practices, and all of its Specialist Referral centres have remained open to provide ‘urgent and emergency pet health care,’ in line with government guidance, but it warned that it anticipated reduced customer revenues.
The company said: “Pets at Home is a resilient business with the capability to adapt and respond quickly to changing market conditions.”
Pets at Home has also provided £1.1m of funding to nominated pet charities, a £1m crisis fund for colleagues and discounts to NHS workers.