Pets at Home had investors purring on Friday after it added £8 million to profit forecasts on the back of surging demand from a new wave of animal owners.
The retailer, which operates 451 stores, shed some of its new year caution on Covid-19 and Brexit to reveal its performance over the past eight weeks had been ahead of expectations, with growth across all sales channels and categories.
The FTSE 250 company is classified as an “essential” retailer so has been able to keep branches open during recent lockdowns. It has also reported a significant step up in pet ownership during the pandemic.
With £28.9 million of business rates relief now repaid, Pets said profits will be about £85 million in the year to the end of March. This compares with previous guidance at the start of January for at least £77 million and last year’s £99.5 million.
Chief executive Peter Pritchard said last month he wanted to open up to 20 new sites in London to cater for growing demand since the first lockdown.
He told the Standard in November that the company had “witnessed a leap in pet ownership, rather like a ‘baby boom’, during the pandemic”.
He said: “With more people working from home and people having to self-isolate, growing numbers have been turning to pets for companionship.”
The shares rose 4% in early trading.