Pets at Home plans to open more of its smaller-format pet care centres in underserved areas, Retail Week can reveal.

Pets at Home store Sutton

Pets at Home plans to open 20 more smaller-format stores within the M25

The retailer already has opened smaller stores in London in Camden, Putney, Balham and Ealing, with openings in Whetstone and Sutton in April.

Speaking to Retail Week, chief executive Lyssa McGowan said Pets at Home is looking to open “20 smaller formats in the M25” in the medium term.

“London in particular is a historically underserved market with an exploded pet population and lots of Gen Z owners,” she said.

“We’ve got Beckenham launching later this year, so we’ll keep looking in London where we’ll find suitable properties.

“We will absolutely open more stores and we think we can do up to 20.”

McGowan added that the Sutton and Whetstone stores are performing well and the group is looking to add vets at both stores.

Leveraging AI

As well as opening more stores, Pets at Home has launched its new digital platform to include a new website and app.

While McGowan said the group is still “in the foothills”, the platform has laid a foundation for “whatever comes along for the future in terms of technology”.

Pets at Home already uses AI in the business to generate recommendations and insights, and it has been leveraging machine learning for years.

McGowan said the digital platform allows the retailer to “unleash” AI and get it in front of customers.

She said: “What’s exciting in the future is that we can use AI for things such as going online and finding a collar, or lead or harness for your dog.

“We can then show you what that will look like on your dog. Not just on a dog that’s a similar height, size or breed, but actually your dog.”

“The options are honestly limitless.”

Although McGowan said the technology is not quite ready yet and the group wants to be “100% sure” before rolling it out to shoppers, she said there are many use cases for customers leveraging AI in the future.