Belfast Telegraph

Subdued merchandise trading hits Pets At Home sales

Pets At Home has said "subdued trading" at its merchandise division dragged on sales in the third quarter.

Revenue at the retailer rose 4.4% to £203.7 million in the 12 weeks to January 5, with its services division, which includes veterinary and pet grooming services, seeing comparable sales growth of 7%.

However, like-for-like merchandise sales dipped 0.5%.

Boss Ian Kellett said: "With a quarter to go, our profit outlook for the year remains in line with expectations, reflecting both the continued investment in our customer offer and ongoing efficiency initiatives.

"Our focus on becoming more specialist, and doing the right thing for our customers, remains at the forefront of our strategy."

Late last year, the company warned that trading was softening, although on Thursday it confirmed it is still on course to meet full-year profit expectations.

Across the group, like-for-like revenue grew 0.1%.

Pets said it is on track to open 15-20 superstores, 45-55 vet practices and 50-60 grooming salons in 2017.

Wayne Brown, analyst at Liberum, said: "We view today's results as disappointing. The material slowdown in merchandise reflects the challenges that remain in this division.

"The fact online growth has been strong yet like-for-like sales are negative in merchandise could be a signal of structural issues and a highly competitive market place."