Business Maverick

Business Maverick

Sit, stay: Woolworths enters the pet care business

Sit, stay: Woolworths enters the pet care business

The retailer has bought a 93.5% stake in Absolute Pets, in bid to become ‘end-to-end pet care destination of choice’

People love their “fur babies” and judging by Woolworths’ latest acquisition, the retailer is banking on our attachment to our best friends.

Woolworths has announced that it is buying 93.45% of the shares in privately owned pet retailer Absolute Pets from Sanlam Private Equity and Absolute Pets management. 

The remaining management-retained shareholding will be acquired by Woolworths over an unspecified period, post the completion of the transaction, the retailer announced.

Established in 2005, Absolute Pets is a leading specialist pet care retailer, with a loyal customer base and comprehensive product offering. The business has more than 150 stores countrywide, including online, pet spas and pet services.

In May 2021, Sanlam Private Equity bought a majority stake in Absolute Pets, which had planned to own 200 stores by 2026, creating more than 300 direct and 950 indirect jobs, and to grow its e-commerce channel. 

The Woolworths acquisition will help Absolute Pets speed up its growth and allow Woolies to become the “end-to-end pet care destination of choice”.

This acquisition also pits it against Shoprite-Checkers, which has opened 67 premium pet stores since 2021.

Woolworths has already expanded its pet product range inside its stores, with gourmet food, toys, grooming products and treats.

In August, Woolworths CEO Roy Bagattini told Daily Maverick that customers loved the retailer’s fresh offerings, which is why Woolworths would be doubling down on its food business by opening more coffee shops and standalone food stores, as well as liquor and pet outlets.

South Africa’s pet segment is currently worth more than R8-billion and is expected to grow to double digits over the next few years, as people consider pets as integral to their families.

Data from Statista shows the pet food market in South Africa is worth $0.45-billion – or R8.48-billion – in 2023. The market is expected to grow annually by 13.30% from 2023–2028.

Compared with global figures, most revenue is generated in the US ($57,380-million this year). 

Stephen Warner, Absolute Pets CEO, and his current management team  will continue to operate and lead the business under the Absolute Pets brand, the companies said. 

Pet care has substantial growth potential and an increasingly important category for Woolworths customers, the retailer said. 

“Absolute Pets has a complementary brand positioning, a well-established market presence, and is led by a strong management team. The acquisition of Absolute Pets will accelerate Woolworths’ pet strategy by bringing together two strategically-aligned businesses, and positioning the group well to become the end-to-end pet care destination of choice, in South Africa.”

Bagattini added that Absolute Pets and Woolies were a natural fit. “Both have a strong commitment to excellence and quality. The Absolute Pets brand has earned the trust of pet owners across South Africa, and I am truly excited by the opportunities our partnership brings to leverage our joint strengths and expertise to provide even more customers with the best overall pet service and experience in the market.”

Warner said the company was delighted to be joining forces with a brand like Woolworths, “whose vision and values are so closely aligned with our own. We look forward to embarking on this journey of growth and collaboration together, as we continue to enrich the lives of pets and their loving owners”.

Market researcher Euromonitor International has reported that there are 9.1 million pet dogs in South Africa. 

The State of Pet Homelessness Index, published in June last year, estimates there are about 14.9 million dogs and cats in South Africa, with 4.1 million strays.

SA scored four out of 10 according to the index, compiled by pet-food manufacturer Mars Petcare, which measured 10 countries’ efforts to deal with dogs and cats which live on the street, are considered strays, or live in shelters. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Renée Van der Merwe says:

    Perhaps this explains why Woolies have been consistently increasing the price of cat food and tins of shredded tuna over the past few months?

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