Petco CEO says company growth is inflation-proof as Americans splurge on pets and bigger homes

Petco CEO says company growth is inflation-proof as Americans splurge on pets and bigger homes

Petco CEO Ron Coughlin said Wednesday that the specialty retailer has a key advantage in an uncertain environment: Americans are spending on pets, even when their budgets are tighter.

At an investor day in New York City, he said the pet category is “resistant to economic downturns, resistant to inflation.”

Plus, he said, more people have adopted pets during the pandemic, as they’ve moved into larger homes with yards and spent more time working from home. She likened the dynamic to a baby boom and said the need for food, veterinary care and more will outlast the global health crisis.

Petco wants to grab a bigger piece of the growing market. He estimates the pet industry generated $72 billion in demand for food and other merchandise last year, and said it will grow 7% by 2025, with double-digit growth in premium merchandise. Competitors including Chewy and Walmart have also increased investments in the pet industry by launching new services, from virtual vet visits to pet insurance, as well as selling pet supplies.

To stand out in a crowded field, Petco ramped up its private-label offerings, expanded veterinary care and other pet services and courted customers willing to splurge on everything from trendy clothing to fresh, organic foods as they treat dogs, cats , hamsters and others. pets as members of the family. It’s also testing a Petco mini-store inside select Lowe’s stores.

It had nearly 200 full-service veterinary hospitals at the end of the fiscal year and plans to increase that to 900, chief operating officer Mike Nuzzo said Wednesday. It also encourages customers to get pet supplies and services at its stores through a subscription service called Vital Care, which offers unlimited veterinary exams and discounts on food and grooming for $19.99 a month. He relaunched the show in March.

On the digital side, the company has leaned on stores to fulfill online orders and offer same-day pickup. Coughlin said that makes the e-commerce business more profitable, especially as gas prices rise and add to higher costs for delivery companies.

Wednesday’s investor day marked Petco’s first since returning to the public market in early 2021. Shares closed the day at $19.45, down 1.32%, amid a broader market downturn. Petco’s market value is $5.88 billion.

Petco reiterated its earlier forecast for the coming year on investor day. The company said it expects between 97 cents and $1.00 of adjusted earnings per share on net income of $6.15 billion to $6.25 billion.

That represents an increase from Petco’s net sales of $5.81 billion last fiscal year. That growth is roughly in line with Wall Street expectations. Analysts expect 99 cents adjusted earnings per share on revenue of $6.2 billion, according to Refinitiv.

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