Italian b-to-b magazine Food published a report on Italian pet retail at the end of 2018. To sum it up: a lot is changing!
Success of pet shop chains
There are more and more pet shop chains with at least seven branches in Italy and they are a huge success. The profit of a chain outlet is five times higher than the turnover of a traditional pet shop. There are several reasons why – wider variety of products, qualified employees and better service.
Enhanced offerings at supermarkets
Hypermarkets and supermarkets are still the strongest distribution channels for pet food in Italy. In the last few years, supermarket chains have discovered the appeal of the pet care segment.
As a result, they have improved and expanded their pet categories. The message that supermarkets are giving to Italian pet owners: ‘You don’t need to spend money at a pet shop, because you can now do all your shopping here, for your family and your pet.’
Hypermarket Auchan, for example, has declared its intention to start selling BARF ingredients in 2019. At Auchan, owners can find everything they need for their pets. Whether it is food, including bulk bags of dry food, or healthcare products. They will also offer new services to pet owners, such as e-commerce, dog sitting and grooming.
Other companies are active too. The Selex group, for example, introduced a natural and organic food line last year. They also improved their private label pet food lines.
And cooperatives like Conad and COOP are expanding their pet categories, in terms of quality as well as branded and private label products.
Grocery retailers open pet stores
In 2014, the supermarket chain Iper opened a new kind of pet shop in Milan. Iper Pet was the first supermarket-owned pet shop. Two years later, Conad opened its first PetStore Conad, and COOP did the same with Amici di Casa. In 2018 there were already 11 Iper Pets and almost the same number of COOP Amici di Casa stores, while Conad have now opened their 25th PetStore and plan to open another 25 in 2019.
Private labels and brands
In most pet stores, the assortment is larger than in a hypermarket or supermarket. Every shop presents their products in the same way, but they offer a bigger range of private label products (including premium and organic) than you would find in a supermarket.
Pet retail chains obviously offer their customers a larger selection of pet food brands than supermarkets. This includes organic and natural brands as well as veterinary diets. They also sell a wide range of snacks and pet accessories, including toys, beauty products and clothing.
Many pet chains offer grooming plus additional services such as SPA and tag engraving. Most of them also organise special activities – agility classes, walking and vet conferences about pet behaviour, to name just a few.