Pets at Home gets connected with Claranet as growth story continues

Pets at Home is investing in connectivity across its store estate, working alongside managed services provider Claranet.

The pet food, accessories and services retailer, which is currently undergoing significant expansion following a public listing last year, reported annual pre-tax profit of £87 million last week, and is looking to upgrade its wide area network (WAN) to support its planned growth strategy.

Claranet will roll out a brand new WAN to more than 400 Pets at Home retail locations and around 340 of the company's veterinary surgeries around the UK, supporting the running of the company's business-critical applications. The vendor will also provide 3G MPLS connectivity as a back-up, meaning that the business can still process transactions securely in the event of a network outage.

Jamie Lowe, infrastructure manager at Pets at Home, commented: "Connectivity in our retail estate is an essential commodity, and customers have come to expect a seamless experience when transacting with us, be it on our website, in our retail outlets, or in combination through click & collect.

"Having the right network in place to support us is critical. Moreover, we need the right support structures and mechanisms in place so that, as and when issues arise, they can be rectified straightaway."

Last week's trading statement from Pets at Home showed like-for-like (LFL) sales improvement across its product and service categories. This financial year, the retailer has ambitions to open another 20-25 full-size stores, 50-55 vet practices, 55-60 Groom Rooms and five stores for its premium-fascia, Barkers.

Reflecting on the full-year results, Greg Bromley, consultant at retail research group Conlumino, said: "While the pet care market continues to remain highly fragmented, the retailer is likely to face growing competitive threats, primarily from the grocers and discounters, including Poundstretcher which continues to roll-out its Pet Hut fascia, and from retailers like B&M, which is expanding both ranges and space.

"The retailer will also have to carry on investing significantly into its services arm, which is growing as a proportion of total revenue. This should ultimately help to offset any falling footfall to physical retail destinations, especially out-of-town retail parks that remain its heartland."

He added: "We believe its pattern of consistent LFL growth is indicative of a business that is clearly well-managed, and this, paired with a coherent, sustainable growth strategy, should be enough to safeguard, and indeed grow its market share in the year ahead."

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