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The pandemic boost to pet ownership has led retail chain Pets at Home to raise its profit forecast yet again as demand for pet products continues to soar.

The company, which has 350 outlets across the UK, says full-year profits will be £85m, up from a previous estimate of £77m.

It said trading over the past eight weeks, during the latest lockdown, had been better than expected.

The firm has now revised its forecast higher four times since September.

Pets at Home said it had seen “continued strong and broad-based growth across all channels and categories” over the past couple of months.

The company is classed as an essential retailer and has been allowed to stay open during lockdown.

In November, it said that animals had been a “lifesaver” for people struggling during the pandemic. Chief executive Peter Pritchard said pets had played “an incredibly important role” through a period of “social loneliness”.

‘Furry friends’

Pets at Home sells some small animals and fish, but does not sell cats or dogs.

It provides a range of services for them, however, including Vets at Home, and a Puppy & Kitten Club for new owners. Recent results showed membership of that had jumped by 25% over the previous year.

Nicholas Hyett, analyst at stockbrokers Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Pets at Home has added 10% to January’s full year profit guidance.

“The rapid improvement is evidence of just how strong recent trading has been, and the effect rolling lockdowns are having – both on pet ownership and our willingness to splash out on our furry friends.

“There is always a risk of course that newly acquired pets fall out of favour once lockdown comes to an end, but for now pet retail is in the jaws of a boom.”