Pets at Home taking bigger bite out of pet care.
Sales of pet care and pet-related products proved to be among the strongest performing areas during Covid-19 and demand within the category has shown little sign of abating in the post-pandemic environment.
Leading the pack is specialist retailer Pets at Home that revealed it has attained a market share of 24% in the UK pet care market (that is worth £7.2 billion in total) as it reported a profits rise of 4.8% to £136 million for the year to March 30.
A key contributor to the group’s ongoing success has been its vet services division that has been built-out over recent years to currently include over 440 veterinary practices. This has proved to be incredibly complementary to its retail operation that predominantly operates from large stores on retail parks.
Evidence of the ongoing health in the services arm comes from the active number of its VIP (loyalty type programme) customers – which grew to 7.7 billion over the year – that included 8,500 new vet clients signing-up each week.
To leverage further value from these relationships Pets at Home announced it is building a platform that will better integrate its products and services. It will enable pet owners to seamlessly undertake the likes of booking surgical appointments, ordering repeat prescriptions, managing nutrition subscriptions, and making purchases of pet treats and presents.
The expectation is that the new platform will help drive greater consumer spending as it will improve customer engagement and experiences. The average customer spend is £160 per year whereas the most engaged shoppers hit over £900 per year, which the company suggests highlights the potential upside opportunity.
Lyssa McGowan, CEO of Pets at Home, says the medium-term vision is to: “Build the world’s best pet care platform…we are the only player that combines products, services and expertise across the full pet care market, with scale and credibility in every area. Our strategy will unlock a unique opportunity we have to bring together everything that pet owners need in one place.”
Rising pet ownership is not solely a UK phenomenon and the increasing value, and appreciation by consumers, of pet care can also be seen in the US where Walmart has boosted its Walmart+ subscription service by including free veterinary telehealth services through a partnership with Pawp.
The subscription service competes with Amazon’s Prime and the inclusion of additional services is a means of making it more attractive than its rivals’ proposition. The inclusion of a telehealth service, whereby members can access remote veterinarian visits for free, is deemed to be particularly valuable to Walmart shoppers and the hope is that it will potentially help retain and boost subscriber numbers.