Pets at Home set for £950m sale

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The Independent Online

The UK's biggest pet retailer was today set to fall into the hands of private equity giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR).

KKR has agreed a reported £950 million deal for Cheshire-based Pets at Home from its current owner and fellow buy-out firm Bridgepoint Capital.

Pets at Home, which has more than 250 stores and 4,200 staff, joins a stable of KKR retail investments in the UK, including Alliance Boots and Toys R Us.



Pets at Home was founded in 1991 and bought by Bridgepoint for £230 million in 2004.

The firm, which also operates 54 veterinary centres, has enjoyed strong growth despite the recession and has been weighing up a sale or flotation for several months.

The company has been growing at the rate of around 20 new outlets a year and is likely to maintain this pace under new ownership.

KKR's European retail head John Pfeffer said: "We are enthusiastic about the significant further potential for Pets at Home to grow, develop and continue to deliver its unmatched breadth of products, store environment, competitive pricing and customer service."

As well as pet food, it is known for accessories, such as dog coats. The winter chill saw a 70 per cent surge in demand for dog coats as animal lovers looked to protect their pets from the cold, while sales of rabbit hutch covers also rose.

Overall like-for-like sales for the six weeks to January 7 were up 6.7 per cent year-on-year, a slight slowdown from the 9.8 per cent growth seen in the first 41 weeks.

Chief executive Matt Davies said KKR's move was a "resounding endorsement of our success to date".

In the year to last March, the company posted underlying earnings of £70 million on turnover of £404.2 million.

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