In 2019, Petco stopped selling dog and cat food made with artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. It now serves meals for pooches that are even safe for humans to eat. And last year it gave itself a new spa-sounding corporate name: Petco Health and Wellness Co. Inc.
The pandemic has been good for business as more homebound people adopt pets and need a place to buy food, beds and squeaky toys. Revenue rose 9% to $3.6 billion in the 39 weeks ending Oct. 31, 2020, compared with the same period the year before. But profits still elude the company. It reported a loss of $20 million in that period, down from a loss of $88 million the year before. The company has been renovating stores and hopes more medical services at its in-store clinics and hospitals will boost profits.
During the pandemic, more people have been shopping for pet supplies online, with much of that spending going to online giant Amazon and online pet store Chewy. But Petco has been trying to snag more of that business by offering same-day shipping from its stores and curbside pickup at its parking lots.
Both options are cheaper for the company than shipping heavy bags of pet food and litter in the mail, said Petco CEO Ron Coughlin, in an interview with The Associated Press.
He said the company’s new stock symbol — “WOOF” — was not a slight to cat owners. While the majority of the company’s business comes from dog parents, Coughlin said he hopes cat, reptile and other pet owners see the stock symbol as a love for all animals.
To ring the opening bell at the Nasdaq stock market, where Petco started trading Thursday, Coughlin brought his 12-year-old Labrador retriever Yummy, who looked confused by all the clapping and falling confetti.
“It was overwhelming for all of us,” Coughlin said.
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