Britain’s largest pet retailer Pets at Home has reported improved financial figures for the year to March 26 with turnover breaking the £1bn barrier for the first time.
But the company has warned its half-year pre-tax profits will come in lower than a year earlier as sales have suffered after an early lockdown spike while operating costs have remained high.
Peter Pritchard, Group Chief Executive Officer, said: “In normal circumstances, it would have given me great pleasure to reflect on another year in which we have grown sales and profits and successfully executed our proven pet care strategy. These are, however, far from normal circumstances with the rapid, wide-ranging and devastating effects of covid-19 having an unprecedented impact on all of our lives.”
In the year to March 26, total revenue at Pets at Home rose 10.2% to £1.06bn, with group like-for-like revenue growth of 9%. Underlying pre-tax profit was up 11% to £99.5m.
Peter Pritchard added: “While online sales have remained at materially elevated levels, matched by improved capacity and good product availability, they are, in isolation, unable to mitigate the reduced level of in-store sales, and their weighting towards food, together with an additional £5m of costs relating to our initial response to covid-19, has had an adverse effect on profits, margins and cashflow in the financial year to date.
“Accordingly, we anticipate H1 FY21 Group pre-tax profit, including both the one-off benefit from the business rates holiday, which will be utilised to partially mitigate the estimated financial impact of covid-19 this year, as well as additional operating costs related to social distancing, to be materially below the prior year. It remains difficult to make a clear assessment of how consumers will react as we emerge from lockdown and we, therefore, do not feel it is prudent to provide full-year guidance at this stage. We will, however, reassess this at our Q1 update at the end of July.”
Pets at Home, which will pay a final dividend of 5p per share, is said to be starting a phased return of its grooming services and selling animals again.
Peter Pritchard told the Evening Standard: “We have taken our time to get everything safe to do this (reopen these divisions). There will be a reduced grooming service to ensure there are less people in a salon at one time. There are many dogs that need to be groomed, and we have a long waiting list.”