Pets at Home expects profit ahead of previous guidance

Shares of Wilmslow-based pet and vet retailer Pets at Home Group rose about 6% on Friday after it published a trading update saying it anticipates full-year underlying pre-tax profit to be at least £77 million — ahead of its previous guidance.

“Pets at Home Group plc, the UK’s leading pet care business, is pleased to provide an update on trading for the third quarter of our current financial year, which concluded on 31 December 2020,” said the company.

“Our H1 FY21 results on 24 November 2020, covering the 28-week period to 8 October 2020, highlighted the inherent resilience of both our pet care model and the underlying pet care market.

“This was reflected in strong sales momentum across our retail and veterinary operations during Q2 despite an extremely challenging external environment.

“This momentum has accelerated across all channels during our third quarter, with ‘high-teens’ group LFL sales growth during December.

“While renewed COVID-related restrictions on a national level may constrain trade, we remain an ‘essential’ retailer and the measures we continue to take across our stores, veterinary practices and online operations are ensuring we remain in a strong position to meet all of our customers’ pet care needs.

“At this stage, based on trading year to date and assuming no change to our ‘essential’ designation or the recently issued guidance from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), we now anticipate full-year underlying pre-tax profit, including the previously announced repayment of business rates relief of £28.9m, to be at least £77m, ahead of our previous guidance.

“Our robust balance sheet and liquidity position was strengthened further at the end of 2020 through £80m in initial cash proceeds relating to the completion of the disposal of our specialist group.”