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Pets at Home planning new mobile and fulfilment options

Pets at Home said this week that it is planning to launch mobile- and tablet-friendly versions of its website, and increase its online product range from its current level of 8,100 to 10,000 SKUs.

Nick Wood, CEO of the pet food and accessories retailer, also revealed on Thursday that the company is looking to launch a Deliver To Store offering, which will enable online customers to order any available product for delivery into a local store.

"We are also enabling the redemption of VIP vouchers online," he explained.

"This will create a seamless store and online shopping experience for VIP customers, as well as allowing us to track offer redemption rates and measure success and returns more easily."

Wood's comments came in Pets at Home's first "final results" statement since floating on the stock market in March.

In terms of other omnichannel development, the CEO said that the business continues to trial its food subscription service, which enables customers to receive their fifth order for free. The company's two-hour click & collect service reportedly continues to perform well, and is viewed by senior management as one lever to drive engagement and cross-selling activities across the retailer's different platforms.

Ahead of the spring flotation, PetsAtHome.com was relaunched to provide customers with fewer clicks to checkout, new content and more ranges than the retailer offers in its stores.

"Post new site launch, as expected, the website experienced slightly lower levels of traffic as re-indexing within search engines occurred, but more recent data shows that visits to the site have now recovered to pre-launch levels," Wood remarked.

"We have also seen less activity from some competitor websites, meaning our overall share has increased slightly and we remain the highest traffic pet website in the UK, with more than three times the traffic levels of our nearest competitors."

The overall business's performance was said to be in line with management expectations at the time of IPO, with underlying EBITDA of £110.7 million representing a 12.4% increase year-on-year.

Revenues grew 11.2% to £665.4 million, which the retailer attributed to store portfolio expansion and strength across food, accessories and services. Like-for-like sales growth of 2.4% was reportedly driven, in part, by the success of its VIP Club loyalty scheme and omnichannel development.

Greg Bromley, consultant at retail research group Conlumino, said: "Going forward, the major challenge for Pets at Home will be to overcome the competitive threat of the grocers and discounters such as Wilkinson and B&M Bargains, which are looking to widen ranges of pet accessories, while offering very competitive prices.

"B&M Bargains is also looking to expand its portfolio of out-of-town stores in retail parks, with these sites typically Pets at Home's heartland. In order to prevail, Pets at Home must continue to improve its offer, while emphasising its points of difference, namely the destination status of its stores which are a major footfall driver."

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