Pets at Home is ramping up its expansion plans as it seeks to increase its share of the pet market.

The 233-store retailer will open 25 more stores this year – up on the 20 it had planned – on the back of strong sales. The average size of the new stores will be 7,500 sq ft.

Chief executive Matt Davies said: “We want to grow our market share. We have the potential in the UK for more than 400 stores in the next eight years.”

Davies said he wants to grow Pets at Home’s market share from 14 to 20 per cent “in the medium term”, paying particular attention to the pet food market, which at present the grocers dominate.

In the 12 months to March 26, the retailer revealed a like-for-like sales hike of 7.5 per cent, and Davies said there has been “no variation” in trade in the weeks since.

In the 12-month period, Davies said the number of transactions increased by 2 per cent.

Sales of big-ticket items, such as expensive fish tanks, have slowed, while sales of lower-priced products, including the retailer’s own- brand range, have increased. “It’s a reflection of people’s search for value as well as confidence in our brand,” said Davies.

Pets at Home wants to treble its online sales in the next three years. Davies said the website, relaunched a year ago, “is already a top-10 store”, and the company is looking at building social networking capabilities into the site.

Last year the retailer shelved plans for a possible flotation, and Davies said there are still no intentions to go public in the near future. “Now is not the market to sell a great asset,” he said.