And the longer-term boost to the chain was confirmed as it announced sustained demand. Total sales over the 16 weeks from April to late July grew by 7.1% to £404.7million. Takings from its main retail business were up 6.6%. But revenues in the firm’s veterinary arm jumped by more than 11% over the period.
Lyssa McGowan, Pets At Home’s chief executive, said: “Our performance has remained strong in the first quarter, underpinned by continued customer growth and high levels of retention.”
The company signed-up 1.1 million new customers last year.
The number of owners joining Pets At Home’s puppy and kitten club – a subscription service – is still averaging 25,000 a week, three times higher than before Covid.
It also reported a record number of loyalty club members, growing 10.7% year-on-year to total 7.4 million people paying for the service.
Steep inflation has impacted the business in recent months, with rising prices of raw materials and energy.
But it plans to reduce costs and improve operational efficiencies and avoid price rises for customers, bosses have said.
Matt Britzman, an equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “The pandemic fuelled pet ownership craze was a blessing for Pets At Home and those cats and dogs will need looking after long into the future.”
Broker Shore Capital called the results “an impressive statement in a challenging consumer environment considering the business was facing tough pandemic-impacted comparatives.”
London-listed Pets at Home expects full-year underlying pre-tax profit to be in line with analysts’ consensus, which is currently £131million, with a range of £127million to £136 million pounds.
Despite the ongoing sales growth, the firm’s share price is down by more than a quarter in the year to date.