Pets at Home has revealed that revenue soared over the past year after it was boosted by the boom in pet ownership during the pandemic.
The company said group revenues jumped by 7.9% to a record £1.14 billion for the year to March 25.
The retailer said it was buoyed by an increase in new pet owners, with the UK’s pet population rising by “an estimated 8% in the 12 months following the first lockdown”.
This particularly sparked a rise in a retail revenues, which passed £1 billion in a year for the first time.
Pets at Home said sales of puppy-focused products jumped by 26%, while kitten products surged by 37%.
Mr Pritchard told PA that the rise in puppy and kitten ownership will strengthen the business in the long term.
“We had seen pet ownership stabilise at around 3.5% growth each year but we’ve had to upgrade that forecast now,” he said.
“Obviously when you look at a dog having an average life between 10 and 15 years it means that baby boom does affect trading on a longer-term basis.
“Our customers have become particularly health-conscious with their pets and there has been strong spending on nutrition.”
The group added that underlying pre-tax profits for the year dipped by 6.4% year on year to £87.5 million after it was weighed down by £30 million in “Covid-related revenue restrictions and costs”.
The group also returned £28.9 million worth of business rates relief to the Government after it was able to trade during the pandemic.
It said it plans to invest around £70 million over the current financial year, pumping money into its store transformation programme, digital growth and a new national distribution site.
Mr Pritchard said the company will target £600 million worth of further revenue opportunities to continue its recent growth.
“This has been the most extraordinary period in my 35 years in retail,” he added.
“The pandemic has brought about permanent changes to the way we work and spend our leisure time, removing historical barriers to pet ownership and strengthening the emotional bond between people and their pets.
“I am pleased to say that, thanks to our unique pet care ecosystem and the tireless efforts of our colleagues, we have taken a greater share of this growing market and are emerging from the pandemic a stronger business.”