Pets At Home earmarks 30 vet practices for possible closure

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Pets at Home has earmarked around 30 vet practices for possible closure as part of an overhaul and warned over full-year results after the plans sent interim profits tumbling.

The group's new chief executive, Peter Pritchard, said he plans to buy out 55 joint venture vet practices from the 471-strong Vet Group chain, with 25 of them becoming company-managed practices and the remainder under review.

Details of the plan came as it reported pre-tax profits crashing 80.5% to £8 million in the six months to October 11 after taking costs of £29 million relating to the vet practice plans.

On an underlying basis and with this stripped out, half-year pre-tax profits fell 9.3% to £37.9 million.

Pets warned it is now expecting lower full-year underlying pre-tax profits, forecasting at least £80 million to £85 million.

Mr Pritchard said: "Since becoming the group CEO in May, I have had the opportunity to take stock of the wider group and shape my view of our future."

He added: "Reviewing our vet group has been a priority. I recognise we have grown at pace and, more recently, have seen the pressure that rising costs and our fees are placing on this young business.

"We will need to recalibrate the business to deliver more measured growth whilst maintaining our plan to generate significant cash profits."

Interim results showed retail sales rose 4.7% on a like-for-like basis, while Vet Group customer revenues rose 15.4%.