Pets At Home buys telephone and online vet business for £15m

The retail chain hopes The Vet Connection will help boost sales as the pandemic keeps people at home looking for online vet help instead.

A pet cat
A pet cat

Pets At Home has bought the UK’s largest independent telephone vet businesses for £15 million as Covid restrictions make it harder for pet owners to travel to surgeries.

The company will use its cash reserves to buy The Vet Connection (TVC), which said it carries out 90,000 remote consultations each year.

Bosses at Pets At Home hope the purchase will add to the retailer’s expanded services division, which already includes in-store vets, pet grooming and dog walking services.

TVC was founded in 2002 as an alternative to pet owners being forced to rely on patchy out-of-hours vet services where fees tend to be far higher.

In the year to April 2020, TVC achieved adjusted pre-tax profits of £700,000.

Coronavirus
Pets At Home stores have enjoyed a boost in sales, retaining ‘essential’ status during Covid lockdowns (Tim Goode/PA)

Pets At Home chief executive Peter Pritchard said the deal will “enhance the overall customer experience, and help drive customer acquisition, retention and lifetime value”.

“The acquisition of TVC marks an important next step in the development of our digital capabilities, providing trusted advice and even more convenient pet care services,” he said.

“TVC is a ‘win-win’ solution for our customers, colleagues and JVPs (joint venture partners), providing 24/7 access to trusted advice from the comfort of home with increased flexibility around veterinary work-life balance.”

The move follows Pets At Home buying a stake in dog-walking and pet-sitting service Tailster last year.

The sector is thought to be worth £1 billion a year and is set to increase following a boom in pet ownership during the pandemic.

Earlier this month, Mr Pritchard said the company had seen a “baby boom” in new owners, helping sales rise 5.1% in the six months to October 8.

Although the chain does not sell cats or dogs, customers have been flocking to stores to buy food, toys and accessories for their new pets.

Pets At Home has previously revealed that it plans to generate 50% of revenue from pet services.

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