Pet Gazette DECEMBER 2018 - Page 9

TRADE TALK | PET GAZETTE | 9 RSPCA SHROPSHIRE CHAIRMAN STOLE £184K FROM CHARITY Peter Ralphs admitted a charge of fraud by abuse of position of power at Shrewsbury Crown Court A former RSPCA chairman of its Shrewsbury branch has admitted a charge of fraud by abuse of position of power after he stole £184k from the charity. Peter Ralphs, 69, admitted the charge at Shrewsbury Crown Court and will be sentenced on 11 December. The RSPCA said it was “heartbroken” at the events and that money donated to animals had been taken in this manner. Ralphs’ crimes date from between 3 November 2014 and 1 January 2017. An RSPCA spokesperson added: “RSPCA branches are run as separate charities and rely on the hard work and dedication of volunteers supported by generous animal lovers in the community. We would like to reassure supporters that the branch continues its vital work helping animals.” It is said that the case involved one individual from the county’s branch, which is a seperate charity to the RSPCA. PETS AT HOME SUFFERS 80 PERCENT DROP IN PRE-TAX PROFITS The company is also considering the closure of vet practices in 30 locations Pet retailer Pets at Home has reported an 80.5 percent drop in pre-tax profits from £40.8m to £8m in its financial results for the 28 weeks from 30 March to 11 October 2018. The company attributed its performance to “increasing cost pressures” faced by its veterinary business. The company said it was considering the closure of vet practices in 30 locations as the company believed they may not be “viable over the longer term”. However, Pets at Home said it planned to open 20 new practices in 2019. It will also offer to buy some 55 practices back from joint venture partners and operate 25 of them as company managed practices. The company expects this to result in total non-underlying income statement costs of up to £49m and non- underlying cash costs of up to £27m. The group’s revenue increased by 6.7 percent from £468m to £499.3m when compared with the same period last year. It’s retail revenue saw a six percent growth from £418.5m to £443.7m while its vet group revenue grew from £49.5m to £55.6m – rising 12.3 percent. Peter Pritchard, group chief executive officer, said: “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.” NATION SPENDS £12BN ON PETS Dog owners now spend £1.4bn more in 2018 across the nation as a whole than they did in 2016 British dog owners now spend a total of £12bn on their pets every year, according to new research. The research by American Express, found there has been a marked increase in recent years as a result of both average spend per pet rising (now £1,342 per pet from £1,252 in 2016) and the total number of dogs across the nation going up (from 8.5 million in 2016 to an estimated nine million). Dog owners now spend £1.4bn more in 2018 across the nation as a whole than they did in 2016. Over half of British pet owners say they like to use small and independent retailers, citing quality of service and the fact that shop owners know their pets and can help find the best products for them. When it comes to yearly expenditure, the research found on average, dog owners spent £390.48 a year on dog food, while other necessary expenditure included insurance (£251.76 a year) and their dog’s health (£63.87 a year). That means that the remaining £636.11 spent on average per pooch annually is discretionary, including toys, professional grooming, kennels, clothing and accessories. Caroline Bouvet, VP at American Express said: “It’s no secret that we are a nation of dog lovers, and we love to spoil them. Our research shows that British dog owners are spending more and more on treats for their pets, and many of them are choosing small businesses to do so thanks to the great products and tailored service they provide. “We hope dog lovers will show their support for the pet stores, grooming parlors and other independent pet businesses that serve them and their best friend by shopping small this Small Business Saturday, and beyond.” December 2018