• Group sales up 4.4% to £203.7m in the 12 weeks to January 5
  • Retail sales flat at £177.4m
  • Group like-for-like sales 0.1%, with retail LFL down 0.5% and services LFL up 7%
  • Retailer said trading at its retail division was subdued
  • Services sales up 47.8% to £26.3m 

Pets at Home retail sales slipped in its third quarter as the pet specialist continues to drive its services business. 

Like-for-like sales were flat across the business in the 12 weeks to January 5, slipping 0.5% at Pets at Home’s retail arm, but increasing 7% at its services division.

The group’s overall sales increased 4.4% year-on-year to £203.7m, while retail sales were flat at £177.4m.

The retailer said this reflected strong growth in its veterinary services, offset by “more subdued” retail trading.

Sales at its services division leapt 47.8% to £26.3m following its recent acquisition of specialist referral centres.

Pets at Home chief executive Ian Kellett said: “Vet services yet again performed strongly this quarter, where our strategy of providing a quality service to clients across both primary opinion and specialist referral centres is delivering results, and is a platform for continuing strong growth.

“In merchandise, whilst overall sales were softer than anticipated, online grew strongly, reflecting the momentum gained from our investments in seamless shopping.”

Kellett said the business will focus on delivering best value, “starting with a very clear message to customers about the benefits of our high-quality, UK-produced private label foods”.

He said: “Our focus on becoming more specialist, and doing the right thing for our customers, remains at the forefront of our strategy.”

Pets at Home opened two new stores, six vet practices and 11 grooming salons during the period, and said its profit outlook for the full year remains in line with market expectations.

It hopes to have opened between 45-55 vet practices and 50-60 grooming salons by the end of the current financial year.

Pets at Home, which named Screwfix retail director Stuart Livingstone as its new operations boss earlier this month, registered a 3.9% rise in pre-tax profit to £47m at its half-year, buoyed by a 2.5% uplift in like-for-like sales.

Ian Kellet will be on stage at Retail Week Live, the UK’s premier festival of retail and consumer commerce, taking place in London on March 8-9, 2017. The event attracts over 1,200 retail chiefs and leading business personalities who gather to experience the unique combination of networking, inspiring content, strategic thinking and innovation. To book your ticket visit: www.live.retail-week.com