Pets at Home has posted a 2.2% rise in like-for-like retail sales during its first quarter as bosses hailed “continued momentum”.

Its retail business was buoyed by a return to sales growth in health and hygiene products, while its online offer continued to gain traction.

Group like-for-likes increased 2.7% during the 16 week period to July 21 as its services division, which includes veterinary and grooming services, posted a 7.5% jump in like-for-like revenues.

Pets at Home said total sales climbed 8.9% to £244.2m.

Retail sales accounted for £210.5m of that total, up 4.9% compared with the same period last year.

Services and other revenues stood at £33.7m, although this marked a 43.4% spike year on year, driven by the contribution of newly acquired specialist referral centres.

During the quarter, Pets at Home opened four new stores, three Vets4Pets practices and six Groom Room salons.

The pet specialist also rolled out a monthly subscription service for flea treatment products and launched a smartphone app for its 3.5 million VIP club members.

Pets at Home boss Ian Kellett insisted the retailer’s full-year outlook remain “in-line with market expectations” despite “uncertain” consumer confidence.

He said: “We are pleased with our positive start to the year, delivered through consistent performance in our core strengths of advanced nutrition, vet and grooming services, with a continued underpin from the growth in sales to our VIP members.

“While the consumer outlook is uncertain, we remain confident in our long-term strategy and are reassured by the historical resilience of the pet market in times of economic downturn.”

At its full years, the retailer said even the resilient pets market was not immune to industry headwinds, and outlined a number of strategies for keeping the business on track.