Pets at Home comfortable with essential retailer denomination as it posts 18% sales surge

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Pets at Home Group PLC (LON:PETS) has posted a surge in quarterly sales after it was allowed to trade during the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown as an essential retailer.

Total group revenue jumped 18% to £302mln in the 12 weeks to December 31, 2020, with like-for-like retail and veterinary services both up 18% and the omnichannel, which comprises online and order-in-store service, up 71%.

READ: Pets at Home raises profit expectations after strong quarter

Pets at Home has been looking to provide a more flexible offering, such as the launch of a one-hour Click and Collect service across its 451-strong store estate, and a “Deliver to Car” service across more than 150 stores, while it has opened two smaller stores in central London to decide whether to make a wider rollout.

As announced earlier this month, the pet products retailer estimates full-year underlying pre-tax profit, including the previously announced repayment of business rates relief of £28.9mln, to be at least £77mln from £99mln a year ago.

Total liquidity at the end of the third quarter was £391mln, including cash and banking facilities.

The FTSE 250 group posted growth in its customer programmes, with VIP members rising 12% to 6.2mln and Puppy and Kitten Club members up 47% to an unspecified figure, with Pets at Home noting that they spend around 25% than non-members.

The firm also provides subscription services, such as a Vet Group health plan, or omnichannel subscription platforms Easy Repeat and Subscribe & Save, which have reached 1mln customers annually adding £85mln in recurring sales.

“The strategic initiatives put in place prior to COVID-19 have enabled PETS to deliver a strong recovery with continued market share gains,” analysts at Liberum noted.

“The group is emerging as an overall beneficiary from the pandemic and is well set to weather the remaining uncertainty ahead.”

Shares rose 2% to 411p on Thursday morning.

–Adds analyst comment, shares–

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