Pets at Home returns 70m

Pets at Home, a UK pet food and product retailer, has returned £70m to shareholders and repaid a £20m mezzanine loan since it was bought out with the backing of Bridgepoint. The return and repayment were also prompted by a refinancing and cash generated since the £230m buyout of the company in July, 2004.

Announcing its full-year results for the year to March 31, Pets at Home said BNP Paribas and Royal Bank of Scotland had underwritten new debt facilities that were integral to the returns. These comprise £167m of senior debt and a £22m working capital and capex facility. Full-year results included a 19% increase in turnover to £260m, a 45% rise in Ebitda to £34.1m, and 12% growth in like-for-like sales in the year to March 2005.

“Our strong performance was as a result of a combination of factors: focus on margin enhancement through better sourcing, especially in the Far East; development of own-label food products; and constant refreshing and renewing our product ranges across our stores,” said Matt Davies, chief executive.

The company rolled out 12 new stores last year and is planning a further 17 on top of its present estate of 162 outlets in the next financial year.

Bridgepoint’s other investments in the retail sector include Adams Childrenswear, Molton Brown, Faith Shoes, Nocibe and Serap. It sold Jessops, the photography retailer, to ABN AMRO and has divested Lee Jeans to Matalan. Pets at Home was advised on the refinancing by Rothschild and Travers Smith.