- Whiskers ‘n Paws trading on Dorking high street in former Waitrose
- Boss Nick Wood says offer is about “trying to drive covenience”
- Luxury dog format remains on “extended trial”
Pets at Home’s new Whiskers ‘n Paws format is “potentially important”, according to its boss, as it eyes a bigger presence on high streets.
The first Whiskers ‘n Paws opened last month on Dorking high street, Kent, in a former 2,500 sq ft Waitrose.
The store’s core offer is food and accessories for dogs and cats and includes a groom room, but has no live pets.
Essential items for aquatics, reptiles, birds and small furry animals are also being sold.
“Whiskers ‘n Paws is trying to be within 10 minutes of customers where we can’t get a retail park format,” Pets at Home chief executive Nick Wood told Retail Week.
“It’s about trying to drive convenience to those customers that otherwise we would just be neglecting.”
He added: “Inside the M25, (Whiskers ‘n Paws) is a potentially important development for us.” However he stressed it will “remain in trial”.
Wood also rejected the suggestion the launch is a response to the grocers’ pet food offer.
“It’s about trying to drive convenience to those customers that otherwise we would just be neglecting”
Nick Wood, Pets at Home
“The grocers are significantly more convenient,” he said. “That’s their core competitive edge. What we know if we can be within a 10-minute drive of our customers we do really well.”
Pets at Home, which today reported a 2.2% rise in third-quarter like-for-likes, is also still trialling a specialist luxury dog format called Barkers.
Four have opened so far – in Ilkley, Marlow, Wilmslow and Sevenoaks – with a fifth planned by the end of March.
Woods said the Barkers format remains an “extended trial”. He added: “We’ve made no decision on core roll-out.”
On testing new formats, he said: “One of things we learnt from the US is you have to continually re-invent yourself with formats. Just sitting there with a big box format will get us to 500 stores, which is great.
“But what about all the opportunities you can’t get to with a big box format?”