Pets at Home opened the doors to its new concept in Stockport on this month.

Full of interactive elements, new technology and highly trained staff, boss Peter Pritchard says stores like this will lead the way for bricks-and-mortar retailers to compete with the likes of Amazon.

The specialist retailer ploughed around £1m into the new store designs and refurbishments at Stockport and Chesterfield respectively, with five more stores slated to be upgraded this year followed by a further 40 in 2020.

Integrating vet practice Vets4Pets, the RSPCA and an onsite dog groomer, the store is catered towards providing a service for every qualm a pet owner may have.

The new format - designed by Briggs Hillier design agency - also sees the launch of the first Pets at Home RSPCA cat adoption agency.

Against a backdrop of store closures and CVAs, Pritchard is adamant that physical stores are still “really important” for customers.

“The retail industry is constantly evolving, and many retailers are only targeting resources towards online platforms.

“We believe that this competitive landscape requires a combined online and offline offer to ensure the ultimate in convenience and personal service for our customers.

“Our store of the future boosts our offering for pet owners – with people, personality and, most importantly, pets at the centre of our business.”

‘Animals are king’

At the entrance to the store you step into the Pet Village – an interactive area for shoppers full of rabbits, gerbils, hamsters and guinea pigs.

Pritchard says the Pet Village is there to help customers decide what animal is the right fit for them, aided by a large tech screen that customers can use to take selfies, play games, discover animal facts and take a test to determine what animal is best for them.

Alongside all the experiential elements, the pet retailer sells 6,000 different products ranging from food and accessories to tech products for animals – such as remote-controlled mice for cats to catch, heated animal beds and GPS trackers for pet collars.

“Animals are king, the customers just have the credit cards.” Pritchard says.