Pets at Home’s sales rose over its last full-year but the retailer’s bottom line was dented by investment in lowering prices.
Pre-tax profits shrank 16.6% to £79.6m over the year to March 29, 2018. Underlying pre-tax profits were down 12.3%.
The bottom line drop reflects the retailer’s new three-year strategy of lower merchandise prices to drive retail sales. It said its £13m investment here has delivered “positive results faster than expected”.
Over the year, total sales rose 7.8%, with services contributing a 13.7% uplift and retail a 6.8% climb.
On a like-for-like basis, sale rose 5.5%. The retailer’s performance-boosting services arm climbed 8.5% and retail like-for-likes grew 5%.
Despite a strong portfolio of vets practices, the shortage of qualified vets in the UK has led the business to slow its roll-out to ensure it only opens in good-quality locations with the right partners. It will focus instead on accelerating growth in existing practices.
The retailer today appointed a new non-executive director, hiring professor Susan Dawson to replace Tessa Green.
Dawson is a veterinary academic and has been professor and dean of the Institute of Veterinary Science at the University of Liverpool for the past seven years.
Boss Peter Pritchard, who formally took the helm three weeks ago, said: “We have a bright future. Year one of our three-year strategy has delivered, and as a business we are on a stronger competitive footing to return to sustainable profit growth. But the job isn’t done yet.
“My plan has a bigger focus on digital, tapping into the vast potential of our customer and pet data, and taking action to ensure our vet business reaches its potential.”
Over the year, the business opened 25 vet practices, 27 grooming salons and 13 superstores and closed seven Barkers stores, as previously reported.
This year, it will roll out between 20 and 25 vet practices, 10-20 grooming salons and up to five superstores.