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Pets at home floatation cancelled

PET SUPERSTORE chain Pets at Home, which sells a whole range of pet related products, veterinary medicines and small animals such as fish, birds and rodents has dropped plans for a sale or stock market flotation despite seeing profits soar during the last year.

The privately owned retail chain said on Monday of this week that a change of ownership was now off the agenda until the current financial turmoil afflicting the UK in the so-called ‘credit crunch’ is over.

‘To do so at this time would inevitably undervalue what is a fantastic business,’ said chief executive Matt Davies.

The firm runs 213 stores across the UK, and is the biggest single player in the £2bn-a-year pet care market. This week, the company reported pre-tax profits of £30.9m for the 12 months to the end of March, a 55% increase on the previous year.

Innovations such as its in-store veterinary practices helped to lure pet owners through the doors, said Davies – whose Labrador Archie gives valuable guidance on new products.

With a flotation or sale now off the agenda, Pets at Home will focus on opening new stores and rolling out new services, including ‘Bunny Boutiques’ and a ‘Deli For Dogs’.

The store is also forging ahead with an employee training scheme under which staff become qualified to sell licensed flea and wormer products – part of its drive to offer veterinary services since the deregulation of veterinary services nearly two years ago.

Private equity firm Bridgepoint, which bought a controlling stake in Pets at Home in 2004, appointed advisors last autumn to consider ‘potential M&A activity’. Analysts predicted in November that the chain could be worth £600m, although that valuation is likely to have been driven down by the ongoing credit crisis.