Covid-19: Pets at Home squeezes £1bn sales in FY20 before pandemic hits trading

Pets at Home has reported a surge in like-for-like sales in the financial year ended 26 March 2020, with revenue exceeding £1 billion for the first time. This strong performance was helped by a rapid increase in demand for its products both online and in-store in the last few weeks of this period when the Covid-19 crisis struck the UK.

However, the retailer reported a sales decline in Q1 of its new financial year which began during lockdown. Despite stores trading during the period, the retailer has struggled with sales due to social distancing measures across its operations and restrictions on the sale of non-essential pet products and health care services. It added that its online sales have “remained at materially elevated levels”, although this has not offset the recent loss of sales in its stores.

Pets at Home therefore predicts that its group pre-tax profit for FY21 to be significantly lower than FY20.

In the release of its preliminary FY20 results, the pet retailer also outlined plans to continue expanding its eCommerce service in light of the pandemic; it stated it has been able to process double the pre-Covid-19 level of online orders due to previous investment in automation, fulfilment and digital capability.

During FY20, the group’s like-for-like revenue grew by 9%, reaching more than £1 billion, while its pre-tax profit increased by 11.0% to £99.5 million.

Peter Pritchard, group chief executive officer at Pets at Home, commented: “In normal circumstances, it would have given me great pleasure to reflect on another year in which we have grown sales and profits and successfully executed our proven pet care strategy. These are, however, far from normal circumstances with the rapid, wide-ranging and devastating effects of Covid-19 having an unprecedented impact on all of our lives.”

He added: “While online sales have remained at materially elevated levels, matched by improved capacity and good product availability, they are, in isolation, unable to mitigate the reduced level of in-store sales.”

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