Pets at home unveils shares plan

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PETS at Home has unveiled plans for a stock market flotation expected to value the company at around £1.2bn.

The announcement adds to the current bout of float fever on financial markets after a raft of companies including discount retailer Poundland yesterday launched share offers worth billions in total.

Around 500 members of staff own 10 per cent of the pet retail business, which will now translate into an average of around £240,000 each, though the holdings of senior executives are likely to be much larger than those of shop workers.

The move comes 23 years after founder Anthony Preston opened the first Pets at Home store in Chester. Mr Preston retains a small stake in the group.

The business was then developed by private equity firms after its acquisition by Bridgepoint for £230m in 2004 and then KKR, which acquired Pets at Home in a £955m deal in 2010.

It now operates from 369 stores in the UK as well as 246 small animal veterinary surgeries through joint ventures under the Companion Care and Vets4Pets brands. The group also has 116 in-store Groom Room salons.

The company said like-for-like revenues had grown 2.4 per cent and underlying earnings by 11.1 per cent to £87m in the 40-week period to January 2. This is expected to reach not less than £110.2m in the year to the end of March.

It has announced the appointment of four new board members ahead of the float, including Halfords chairman Dennis Millard, who is to become deputy to Pets at Home chairman Tony DeNunzio.

Chief executive Nick Wood said: “Pets at Home comes to the market with a clear leadership position in the UK pet care market and with a mission to be the best pet shop in the world.

“I am confident and hugely enthusiastic about our future as we embark on the next stage of our growth as a public company.”

He said the company had consistently delivered strong financial growth and since 2009 had gained share across all segments of the market.

The business is looking to expand to more than 500 stores, more than 700 veterinary practices and over 300 Groom Rooms. It says the UK pet care market is worth an estimated £5.4bn.

Pets at Home says it has a 12 per cent share of the market, and more stores than its five biggest rivals combined.

Full details of the offer, which will include a portion of shares for retail investors, are to be published in coming weeks.

Yesterday, Poundland announced details of a float that will value it at around £750 million, while cleaning company ISS made a similar announcement and King, the Irish mobile games maker behind Candy Crush Saga, said it would float in New York.