Pets at Home has revealed that its closing weeks of full-year trading saw “exceptional levels of demand” amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
In the period ended 26 March 2020, existing customers increased their average basket size, whilst new customers have accessed its pet products and healthcare services.
Trading was largely in line with expectations, and the pet care group’s investments in omnichannel capacity, new customer acquisition channels and subscription services equipped it to “meet above-trend levels of demand”.
In light of this, the group “accordingly” expects underlying pre-tax profit for the full-year to be slightly above the top end of the range of market expectations.
In its latest update, Pets at Home also commented on the current pandemic, saying it has implemented a number of protocols to “safeguard the wellbeing and safety” of employees, customers and pets.
It has removed all but essential travel from its operations, adopted alternative working arrangements for employees, and offered advice and support on “maintaining good health and wellbeing”.
As an “essential retailer”, the group said it is aiming to “strike a balance” between providing an essential service and upholding health and safety standards.
For this reason, its Groom Room salons have now closed and its First Opinion veterinary practices are providing only urgent care.
Due to these reduced services and lower store revenues, the group anticipates a “negative impact” on its normal levels of turnover as it starts the new financial year.
Peter Pritchard, CEO of Pets at Home, said: “While FY20 has undoubtedly ended strongly for Pets At Home during this unprecedented time, the period ahead is uncertain for us all, and Pets At Home will not be immune to these challenges that we collectively face.
“I am extremely grateful that our colleagues and operations have shown such resilience and flexibility to meet the recent exceptional level of demand from both existing and new customers.”
He added: “As ever, in difficult times consumers turn to trusted brands and advice, and that is why we are working tirelessly to ensure that we continue to provide essential products and healthcare services for the UK’s pets.
“The health and safety of our colleagues, partners, suppliers, customers and pets remains our top priority. We continue to take all appropriate action in line with government advice and remain vigilant to the potential impact of COVID-19 as we start the new financial year.”