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Woolworths ventures into the pet sector in SA worth billions as it announces intention to acquire Absolute Pets

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Absolute Pets was established in 2005 and has become one of the country’s leading specialist pet care retailer.

Woolworths said pet care was an attractive and rapidly developing market, with substantial growth potential.

ONE of South Africa’s most popular retailers, Woolworths Holdings Limited (WHL) announced its intention on Tuesday to acquire 93.45% of the shares in privately owned pet retailer Absolute Pets from Sanlam Private Equity and Absolute Pets management.

In a statement issued on the JSE news service, SENS, the group said the remaining management-retained shareholding would be acquired by Woolworths over an agreed period, post the completion of the transaction.

Absolute Pets was established in 2005 and has become one of the country’s leading specialist pet care retailer, with extensive knowledge of pet care, loyal customer base and compelling product offering.

The business has a national presence of more than 150 stores countrywide, including online, pet spas and pet services.

Woolworths said pet care was an attractive and rapidly developing market, with substantial growth potential.

The retailer is not the first in the country to ramp up their presence in the pet sector, as the Shoprite Group announced earlier this year that it would be taking its Petshop Science brand online.

The retailer said the pet sector in South Africa was worth more than R7 billion.

Woolworths said the pet sector was an increasingly important category for their customers who considered their pets an integral part of their families.

“Absolute Pets has a complementary brand positioning, a well-established market presence, and is led by a strong management team. The acquisition of Absolute Pets will accelerate Woolworths’ pet strategy by bringing together two strategically-aligned businesses, and positioning the Group well to become the end-to-end pet care destination of choice, in South Africa,” Woolworths said in a statement.

WHL Group CEO Roy Bagattini said: “Absolute Pets and Woolies are a natural fit. Both have a strong commitment to excellence and quality. The Absolute Pets brand has earned the trust of pet owners across South Africa, and I am truly excited by the opportunities our partnership brings to leverage our joint strengths and expertise to provide even more customers with the best overall pet service and experience in the market.”

Stephen Warner, the Absolute Pets CEO, and the current management team, would continue to operate and lead the business under the Absolute Pets brand, with the benefit and support that partnering with the Woolworths Group provided.

“We are delighted to be joining forces with a brand like Woolworths, whose vision and values are so closely aligned with our own,” said Warner.

“We look forward to embarking on this journey of growth and collaboration together, as we continue to enrich the lives of pets and their loving owners.”

The purchase consideration will be settled in cash, and the conclusion of the transaction is subject to the fulfilment of regulatory and commercial suspensive conditions customary of a transaction of this nature, including competition authority approval in South Africa.

Woolworths told Business Report that both parties have agreed to keep the value of the transaction confidential.

“We plan to explore all opportunities relating to the loyalty programmes of both businesses to create value for our customers. By combining the pet expertise of Absolute Pets with the operational excellence of Woolworths, this partnership allows us to leverage our capabilities to broaden our range of products and services, and enhance the shopping experience, providing customers with the best overall proposition in the market. There will be an integration of the brand into some of our existing stores especially those in shopping centres where there are no Absolute Pets stores,” Woolworths told Business Report.

BUSINESS REPORT

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