Chips are up for Animalcare

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PLACING CHIPS on lions, elephants and wolves doesn’t sound like a job for the faint-hearted.

Bosses at vet drugs company Animalcare have built a profitable, debt-free business around mankind’s desire to protect all creatures great and small.

The company’s chips can stop large beasts from going astray, and its veterinary products keep thousands of pets healthy.

Yesterday, the company revealed that its revenues in the year to June 30 had risen by 6.3 per cent to £12.9m, while its pre-tax profits rose 14.7 per cent to £2.7m.

York-based Animalcare’s pet chipping division – which is known as the Companion Animal Identification arm – has returned to growth following an announcement that microchipping will soon be compulsory for all dog owners in England.

But it’s not just dogs that are being chipped. Animalcare has 1.8m dogs and 1.3m cats on its chip database. Perhaps surprisingly it also has 50 badgers, 32 camels, two deer, four elephants, two fish, 39 foxes, 20 goats, three lions, 16 lemurs, one monkey, five otters, 12 wolves, five sheep and one rodent on its database too.

Every captive animal, from the elephant to the humble tortoise, is covered by strict rules governing how the chips are used, to ensure the animal doesn’t suffer any harm.

Commenting on the annual results, Iain Menneer, the chief executive of Animalcare, said: “These are a solid set of results which show good overall growth.

“It is pleasing that with our strong cash position, we will be able to fund our investment programme while maintaining the dividend policy.

“Our investment in infrastructure and people, as well as our pipeline of enhanced generic products, provides a strong platform for a business that is already debt free and cash generative, and hence is well positioned for future growth.”

In the annual results, the company said its Companion Animal Identification group sales and marketing strategy had started to deliver results, with revenue growth of 7.8 per cent to £2.4m and gross profit up by six per cent to £1.7m.

The company said this was “an even more pleasing result against the backdrop of uncertainty over new legislation and the Dogs Trust free microchipping campaign through veterinary practices”.

Microchip sales grew by 8.2 per cent while the database of pet owners, Anibase, has now grown to 4m.

The revenues derived from services sold to these owners also grew in line with microchip sales revenues, at 7.1 per cent.

Last year, Parliament voted to make it compulsory for all dogs in England to be implanted with a microchip. Owner contact details must be on a database from April 2016.

The Welsh Assembly announced that the same legislation would be introduced in March 2015. Microchipping of dogs is already compulsory in Northern Ireland and the Scottish Parliament is reviewing the situation.

The Dogs Trust announced that it would fund a million free microchips in a year-long campaign leading up to April 2016.

The report to accompany the annual results states: “As a result of this activity, the microchip market has seen some price pressure in the short-term.

“The lack of clarity and disruption in the market around both announcements has now settled and we better understand how both will be implemented, however uncertainty remains as to what extent owners and veterinary practices will engage in either the legislation or free microchipping campaign respect-ively.”

The company’s licensed veterinary medicines product group grew by 9.5 per cent to £7.9m and gross profit by 6.2 per cent to £4.4m.

Animalcare said this “represented a strong result against the prior period”.