Pets at Home has reported a 16.6 per cent drop in profits for the year to March 29, despite a 7.8 per cent increase in turnover to £898.9 million.
In its preliminary results for the financial year, the pet chain said that the fall in profits reflects its £13m investment in merchandise and a £5m increase in the provision held for practice loans in its veterinary business.
Like-for-like sales were up 5.5 per cent and in the last 12 months, Pets at Home completed 13 superstores, 25 vet practices and 27 grooming salons; and closed seven Barkers stores.
Peter Pritchard, Pets at Home’s group chief executive (pictured), said: “Our plans to reposition retail are working, more customers are coming back to shop with us, and we are committed to returning the business to profit growth. But it hasn’t been easy. We took decisive action, threw passion and energy into it, and delivered targeted pricing changes to give customers the products that mattered most to them, with the service and value they expect from us.
“Our product innovation this year has been the best I can remember and the investment we made in the development of a subscription service is bringing some excellent results, as is Order In-Store, which brings our full online range to every store in the business.”
Mr Pritchard said that the veterinary services market is a very attractive space in which Pets at Home can group. However, he highlighted the industry wide problem of a shortage of qualified vets in the UK.
Mr Pritchard added: “The pet care market remains resilient, with growth in pet products estimated at around two per cent in 2017, and veterinary services at around five per cent.
“We again grew our market share in the vet segment and are pleased to say that following our price repositioning work in retail, we have won back share in the food and accessories markets.
The chain will open up to five superstores, 20-25 vet practices and 10-20 grooming salons this year.