Yorkshire equestrian specialist
gets corralled by Pets at Home

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PETS at Home, the mass market retailer, has bought York-based equestrian specialist Ride-Away.

The private equity-owned pet shop group said the acquisition of the multi-channel retail business “significantly expands” its specialist credentials.

It pointed to Ride-Away’s strong brand and loyal customer base, created by Stephen and Angela Clark over the last three decades.

Nick Wood, chief executive of Pets at Home, said: “The acquisition of Ride-Away is a really exciting opportunity for Pets at Home where our equestrian offer is very limited at present.”

The fragmented equestrian market is said to be worth £2.8bn.

Mr Wood told the Yorkshire Post: “We looked around the market and were very impressed with the business Stephen and Angela built up. The cultural fit is very strong. They are focused on people and it is very much a family business. That brand will sit very well within our portfolio.”

He added: “Seventy two per cent of equine owners have a dog. We know a lot of their core customers. The opportunity to present Ride-Away as a proposition to our customers is very strong.”

Mr Wood declined to say how much he paid for Ride-Away, which has 30 staff, a 15,000 sq ft store and a turnover of £6.7m.

The Clarks said: “Having decided to sell our family business it was important to us that we found a buyer who shares the values that have underpinned the growth of Ride-Away to date. Given the experience and resources that Nick and his team have at their disposal we believe they can successfully build on the very strong foundation we are proud to have built over the last 32 years.”

Mr Wood said: “The initial plan is to stay there and run it and learn how to retail equine successfully. We are open minded in terms of where the future retail proposition ends up.” He added the wider retail market “remains tough”.

Cheshire-based Pets at Home, the subject of a KKR-backed buyout worth a reputed £955m in 2010, has 334 stores. It also operates 106 Companion Care surgeries and 77 Groom Room salons.

KPMG and law firm Ward Hadaway advised Ride-Away on the deal.