Pets at Home has posted a fall in its first-quarter sales, which covered the period of lockdown, as boss Peter Pritchard hailed the business’ “inherent resilience”.

The pet care specialist posted a 1% decline in total revenue in the quarter to July 16, exacerbated by a 0.7% drop in like-for-like sales year on year.

Pets at Home was classed as an essential retailer and remained open during the pandemic. However, it recorded a 13.5% slump in like-for-like sales during the first eight weeks of the quarter, which coincided with the beginning of lockdown in the UK, offset by a 12% increase in like-for-like sales in the latter part of the quarter.

Retail revenue and like-for-like sales rose 0.4% across the quarter overall, as a 7.3% decline in in-store sales was offset by a 71% rise in omnichannel sales.

Pets at Home’s veterinary division posted an 8.4% decline in sales.

The number of activity loyalty scheme members rose 20.3% year on year to 5.7 million, while customers using its subscription scheme rose 18.1% to 906,000.

Pets at Home also agreed a lease on the development of a new 607,000 sq ft distribution facility in Stafford, Staffordshire, during the quarter, which the retailer has earmarked £48m of capital investment for over the next five years.

Pritchard said: “In spite of the rapid, wide-ranging and devastating effects of the pandemic, we have remained open for our customers throughout the period and we are emerging as a stronger business. The inherent resilience in our pet care model and the underlying pet care market, as well as encouraging signs of increased pet ownership, all underpin our confidence in seizing the future and progressing specific, strategic priorities.

“The significant investment in our omnichannel business is a good example of this, representing an important milestone, not just for our business and customers, but also as part of our commitment to longer-term regional job creation and retention.”