Pets at Home chief executive Nick Wood said ensuring a good culture among colleagues is a priority as the pets specialist offers staff the chance to buy shares in the business when it floats.
Wood said: “Through colleague ownership they will share in the success of the business. The great thing about the public market is that anyone can be a shareholder and hopefully it will cement [their relationship with us].
“Our culture is pretty unique and the culture comes first.”
Almost 500 store managers already have a stake in the retailer, which is owned by private equity backer KKR. The shares comprise around 10% of the business, which is thought to have been valued at between £1.2bn and £1.5bn.
Pets at Home confirmed its intention to float this morning.
It revealed staff will be able to purchase shares in tranches of £250, £500 or £750. It is the first retailer among the recent IPOs, which include McColls, Ao.com and Poundland to make the move.
Wood said the retailer has been speaking to a number of shareholders and he expects to have a mixture of UK and US investors.
But Wood declined to put a timeframe on when it expects to list. “It will take as long as it takes,” he added. “We will be judged on our plans and our delivery and we have a great opportunity and we are a really attractive proposition.”
Pets at Home, which also owns equestrian equipment etailer Ride Away, has been focusing on growing its online offer. It relaunched its website three weeks ago to make it more user-friendly and plans to increase the number of SKUs it has online from 7,500 to 10,000 by the end of March. In the next few weeks it is rolling out its click-and-collect offer to more stores.
It is also working on enabling customers to order online in store via iPads.
Pets at Home said the £275m raised from the listing will be used to reduce its debt and combined with £325m proceeds from the new senior facilities agreement, it will repay all outstanding debt under its existing senior facilities agreement.
“We generate more than enough cash to fund the growth of the business,” said Wood.
The retailer, which operates 369 stores and 246 veterinary surgeries, is targeting more than 500 stores, 700 veterinary practices and 300 Groom Rooms in the UK. It is also planning to fit 150 existing stores with a veterinary surgery over the next five years and 105 Groom Rooms in the next three years.
Pets at Home this week revealed sales jumped 11.7% in the 40 weeks to January 2 and like-for-likes jumped 2.4%. As a result, Pets at Home said the board remains confident on the outlook for the full financial year ending March 27, 2014 and has forecast underlying EBITDA of not less than £110.2m.
It has also appointed four independent non-executive directors to the board to support the float and confirmed the appointment of Halfords chairman Dennis Millard as its non-executive deputy chairman. It said a fifth appointment will be made before its admission to the market.
It emerged last week that Pets at Home had hired Millard and former Carphone Warehouse executive Amy Stirling and Tessa Green, a trustee of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s charitable foundation, as non-executive directors. Today it revealed it has also appointed John Lewis IT director Paul Coby to the board.
Pets at Home confirms its intention to float
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Pets at Home's 'staff culture comes first' says boss Nick Wood