Pets at Home to spend £8m on stockpiling as UK set for no-deal crash

Pets at Home is to spend up to £8 million stockpiling pet food and products as it becomes the latest business to step up plans for a hard Brexit.

In a trading update for the third quarter, the retailer said that, as Britain’s EU divorce looms, it is looking at increasing its inventory holding.

“As we approach our financial year end and monitor the Brexit process, we may consider increasing our inventory holding by up to £8 million,” the company said.

The news comes as Prime Minister Theresa May’s attempt to ram through her Brexit “Plan B” meets fierce resistance in the Commons, meaning that Britain crashing out without a deal is becoming more likely.

Late last year, chief executive Peter Pritchard said Pets had started importing more goods as part of no-deal Brexit contingency plans.

The group warned that 17% of its goods come from outside the UK, and said its stock supply could be disrupted in the event of delays at ports and borders under a no-deal Brexit scenario.

Mr Pritchard said at the time: “We don’t want families to run out of food for their pets.”

Alongside the Brexit warning, Pets said revenue grew 6.3% to £237.2 million in the 12-week period to January 3.

Retail revenue was up 5.5% to £213.4 million, veterinary sales grew 13.6% to £23.8 million, and group like-for-like turnover rose 5.1%.

Mr Pritchard said: “Momentum in retail accelerated over the festive period, culminating in the biggest trading day of our entire history on the Saturday before Christmas.

“We are working closely across the group to maximise our assets and data as a pet care business, delivering initiatives that are resulting in an even better experience for customers.”

Pets said full-year results are on track to meet expectations of group underlying profit of £80 million to £85 million.

It will also book a £42 million charge linked partly to the closure of 30 vet practices as part of an overhaul.