By Eva Mathews
(Reuters) -Pets At Home reported a rise in first-quarter revenue on Friday and maintained its full-year profit outlook, shrugging off some concerns that the British pet supplies retailer could be hit by the cost-of-living crisis.
The company ramped up its online offering and banked on subscriptions for regularly used items to rake in record profits when work-from-home lifestyles and lockdowns spurred pet demand in Britain.
Chief Executive Lyssa McGowan told analysts the shift in lifestyles post lockdowns had driven up demand in its vet services demand. Vet group revenue increased by 11.2% in the 16 weeks to July 21.
Also pet food appears relatively immune to higher prices, because it is bought for loved but fussy dependants and does not represent a big proportion of household budgets.
Pets At Home, founded by British businessman Anthony Preston in 1991, said it retained 1.1 million of the customers it picked up last year, while the number of active VIP customers - holders of a loyalty card offering discounts - rose to a record 7.4 million.
Matt Britzman, analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said the firm's "omnichannel" strategy, combining online orders and in-store services, was a "gold mine".
"That's testament to a lot of work that's gone into boosting the online offering, with services like click and collect meaning customer journeys are a mix of online and in-store," Britzman said.
Revenue rose 7.1% to 404.7 million pounds ($491 million) in the quarter, while like-for-like sales rose 6%.
Inflation has impacted the business in recent months, with rising prices of raw materials and energy, but the company said it was well placed to manage those pressures.
Shares in Pets At Home were up 0.4% in late morning trade.
($1 = 0.8235 pounds)
(Reporting by Eva Mathews in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich and David Holmes)