Pets At Home to beat forecasts after demand spikes

Pets At Home said it expects annual profits to beat expectations after an “exceptional” level of demand driven by the coronavirus outbreak.

The pet store, which has been classed as an essential retailer and continued to trade during the lockdown, said in-store and online sales have increased in recent weeks.

It said existing customers have bought more products per visit while new customers have accessed its pet products and healthcare services.

Nevertheless, chief executive Peter Pritchard warned that the retailer will “not be immune” to challenges caused by the virus.

It said initial disruption in the Far East stabilised “relatively quickly” and product availability has “held up well” so far.

Pets At Home said current uncertainty means it is unable to provide specific guidance over its trading outlook for the new financial year.

The company said it expects lower customer revenues across its veterinary practices as a result of the pandemic.

It said that this, combined with the potential for lower store revenues due to social distancing and other measures, is expected to have a “negative impact” on group turnover for the year.

Mr Pritchard said: “I am extremely grateful that our colleagues and operations have shown such resilience and flexibility to meet the recent exceptional level of demand from both existing and new customers.

“As ever, in difficult times consumers turn to trusted brands and advice, and that is why we are working tirelessly to ensure that we continue to provide essential products and healthcare services for the UK’s pets.

“We continue to take all appropriate action in line with Government advice and remain vigilant to the potential impact of Covid-19 as we start the new financial year.”