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Animates joint owner Greencross continues push into NZ


By Paul McBeth

Aug. 20 (BusinessDesk) - Animates owner Greencross continued to open new instore vet clinics on this side of the Tasman, helping drive sales growth for the Australian pet care firm, albeit at skinnier margins.

ASX-listed Greencross, which jointly owns the Animates pet store chain with NZX-listed Ebos Group, lifted New Zealand sales 11 percent to $114.5 million in the year ended June 30, it said in a statement. Underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rose a more modest 2 percent to $14.5 million as costs climbed with the pet care firm invested more heavily in the Animates instore clinics.

Queensland-based Greencross ramped up its New Zealand business last year when it opened seven retail sites, seven grooming salons and four instore clinics, and bought four other instore vets. In the financial year just finished, the company added two retail stores and two instore vets in New Zealand.

Managing director Scott Hickey said both its Australian and New Zealand retail businesses "continued to perform well" and its position as the biggest trans-Tasman veterinary business left it "well-placed to leverage our scale and expertise to grow our market share."

At a group level, Greencross posted a 6 percent decline in underlying earnings to A$97.6 million on a 7 percent increase in sales to A$878.7 million. Net profit halved to A$20.7 million due to a series of impairments and restructuring costs. The shares jumped 8 percent to A$4.57.

New Zealand’s pet industry has attracted professional investors in recent years with local private equity firm Pioneer Capital taking a cornerstone stake in local vet chain Pet Doctors NZ, which has been buying rival clinics for the past decade and advertises itself as an exit for vets looking to up sticks and sell. Other players such as Veterinary Enterprises Group, or VetEnt, have branched out into a broader suite of agri-related business.

Greencross operates 41 retail stores, 18 vet clinics and 24 grooming salons in New Zealand. Animates partner Ebos will report its earnings later this week.

(BusinessDesk)

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