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UPDATE 1-Pets At Home posts first ever billion-pound sales on pandemic adoption boost

(Recasts; adds details from results, CEO quote, background)

May 27 (Reuters) - Britain’s Pets At Home on Thursday posted full-year retail sales that exceeded a billion pounds for the first time in its 30-year history, riding on a wave of pet adoptions by people stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Work-from-home policies and successive lockdowns in the UK led to a surge in animal adoptions, with more than 3 million households getting a pet since the start of the pandemic, according to the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association.

Pets At Home’s annual retail revenue grew by 8.7% to 1.01 billion pounds ($1.4 billion) for the year ended March 25, 2021, and the company forecast higher profit for the full-year period ending in 2022.

The company, which kept its stores, website and veterinary practices open through repeated lockdowns till early this year, said sales of puppy products grew 26%, while kitten-related item sales rose 37%.

Its veterinary practices signed up an average of 9,000 new customers a week.

The company said underlying profit before tax was 6.4% lower year-on-year at 87.5 million pounds after approximately 30 million pounds in COVID-related revenue restrictions and costs.

“Through the investments we are making and the enlarged pet population, we see a further 600 million pound customer revenue opportunity over the medium term,” Chief Executive Officer Peter Pritchard said.

Pets At Home, which operates over 450 stores offering pet grooming services and insurance products, said it expects underlying pretax profit for the 53 weeks to March 31, 2022 to be in the range of 120 million to 130 million pounds.

$1 = 0.7084 pounds Reporting by Vishwadha Chander in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.

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