UK Markets closed

Pets at Home outlines phased return of dog grooming service as sales top £1bn

Joanna Bourke

The chief executive of Pets at Home on Thursday said the retailer will start a phased return of grooming services and selling animals again for the first time since the lockdown came in.

Peter Pritchard spoke to the Evening Standard after his company reported annual sales surpassed £1 billion, but cautioned first-half profits will come in lower than a year earlier.

The FTSE 250 retailer has been allowed to keep stores open during the lockdown period, but shut non-essential parts of the firm such as dog grooming services and selling pets.

Pritchard today said these divisions were closed to promote social distancing. They were high-contact areas of the business.

He said: “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.”

Pets at Home will also start started a phased return of selling pets, including hamsters and rabbits.

The company recorded comparable sales growth of 9% in the year to March 26, with total revenues up 10.2% to over £1 billion. That was a record for the chain.

However, it cautioned of tougher times ahead and anticipates first-half profits will come in lower than a year earlier.

In the run up to the lockdown pet-owners stockpiled on food, but that has slowed in the first quarter of this year.

Pritchard said as well as Covid-19 disruption hitting the company, Pets at Home has put aside £5 million to help the business. That includes a £1.9 million bonus for staff as a thank you, and costs spent to get stores better equipped for social distancing, such as screens put up around cashiers.