Pets At Home shares fall as CEO, KKR director leave

Shares of Chesire-based Pets At Home, the retailer of pet food, accessories and veterinary services, fell more than 10% after it said CEO Ian Kellett will leave the firm next year and non-executive director Nicolas Gheysens will resign with immediate effect.

The company’s principal shareholder, KKR My Best Friend Limited, has decided not to exercise its right to replace Gheysens’ position.

Peter Pritchard, currently CEO of the Pets At Home retail business, will succeed Kellett as CEO when he leaves on May 31, 2018.

Pets At Home also said group revenue rose 6% to £468 million but statutory profit before tax fell 11.3% to £40.8 million in the 28 week period to October 12, 2017.

Kellett said: “Our strategic progress and trading momentum have steadily improved through the first half of the financial year.

“In the Merchandise business, our like-for-like sales grew by 5.1% in the second quarter, driven by our pricing changes, omnichannel offer and product innovation.

“Our veterinary business is taking market share and hitting the revenue and profit growth levels expected from both the First Opinion practices and Specialist Referral centres.

“We see the potential for significant future profit growth in our Vet Group, where 75% of practices are yet to mature.

“We are confident we are taking the right actions to reposition our Merchandise business and having seen the results from our initial investments, we are accelerating our plans.

“There remains much to do and we will continue to evolve our strategy and adapt to customers’ needs in what remains a competitive market place.”

On the executive and board changes, Pets At Home said: “Ian Kellett, Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO), has informed the board of his desire to step away from corporate life and pursue his own personal business interests.

“As part of the Board’s succession plan, we are pleased to announce that Peter Pritchard, currently CEO of Retail, will succeed Ian as Group CEO when he leaves.

“Ian will remain as Group CEO until 31st May 2018 to support Peter and ensure a smooth transition.

“Peter joined Pets at Home in 2011 as Commercial Director and moved to the role of CEO of Retail in 2015.

“Over this time, Peter has overseen the establishment of our sourcing office in China, the launch of the VIP club, the development of our omnichannel strategy, and more recently, the repositioning of our Merchandise business.

“Nicolas Gheysens, Non-Executive Director, has resigned and will step down from the board with immediate effect.

“The Group’s Principal Shareholder, KKR My Best Friend Limited, has decided not to exercise its right to replace Mr Gheysens’ position on the board as part of the relationship agreement. “

Pets At Home said Pritchard’s remuneration package “will be on the same terms as Ian Kellett’s and includes an annual basic salary of £484,500 subject to any annual review that takes place at the March Remuneration Committee in accordance with the remuneration policy.”

The firm said Pritchard’s maximum annual bonus entitlement is 100% of salary.