Merchandise: Food revenue growth 6.4%, including Advanced Nutrition revenue up 12.3%. Accessories revenue growth 2.4% (52 week)
Services: Fee income from Joint Venture veterinary practices up 22.3% (52 week)
Strong free cashflow generation of £77.8m, deleveraging to 1.2x net debt/EBITDA2 (52 week)
Total dividend payable 7.5 pence per share, up 39%, reflecting payout ratio increased to 50% of earnings
VIP club reached 4.5m members and card swipe rate at store tills represented 64% of revenues in Q4
Achieved rollout targets through opening 20 Pets at Home superstores (net), 6 Barkers stores and 1 Whiskers 'n Paws trial format, 50 veterinary practices and 60 grooming salons
Acquired two specialist veterinary referral centres and a further two post year end
Ian Kellett, Group Chief Executive Officer, commented:
"I am pleased to report another year of good progress. Despite some seasonal challenges to our Health & Hygiene sales, we have seen excellent performance in our strategic growth drivers of Advanced Nutrition, VIP, vet and grooming services. Together with refinancing benefits, this contributed to pre-exceptional earnings per share growth of 11.2%. Our strong cashflow has enabled us to increase the ordinary dividend to shareholders by 39%, to a payout ratio of 50% of earnings, whilst investing for growth through acquisitions of veterinary specialist referral centres.
"We have enjoyed 25 very successful years as a business and enter our 26th year confident in the future. Our colleagues have been central to our success and I thank them for their significant contribution to our results.The pet market has proved over time to be more resilient than general retail, so whilst consumer confidence may be more fragile, we believe our drive to become more specialist and most loved by customers will deliver further progress."