A Top-25 Retailer Revisited
Diane E. Holtz, president and CEO of the Pet Supermarket chain, discusses what has fueled her company’s success, a recent acquisition by private-equity investors, and the future of regional pet store chains.
Coming in at No. 6 on Pet Business’ Top 25 Retailers list with 159 stores, Pet Supermarket has long been a major force in pet retail landscape. While much of the Sunrise, Fla.-based chain’s early expansion was focused in the southeastern United States, it has since spread out to open locations in markets such as northern California, Nevada and, most recently, Dallas.
This aggressive approach to expansion, which is now being fueled by a healthy infusion of capital from new private-equity ownership, makes it clear that Pet Supermarket is still a company on the rise. Pet Business recently caught up with president and CEO Diane E. Holtz to talk about her company’s success so far, its prospects for future growth, and the state of regional pet retail chains in general.
Pet Business: Overall, how has business been for Pet Supermarket over the past two years? What are some of the opportunities and challenges the company has faced during that period?
Diane E. Holtz: Pet Supermarket has thrived over the past two years in an uncertain retail and economic environment. We have opened 17 new stores, expanded our product lines, developed new employee training programs and hired over 200 new associates. We see continual opportunities to open stores in new areas geographically. It takes time, the right plan, the right people and dedication to develop our brand in new large metro markets.
PB: What separates Pet Supermarket from other pet specialty chains in the marketplace? What are some of the key features of your business model?
Holtz: We all know that customers have a number of choices when buying pet food and supplies. Pet Supermarket offers a "Buy 10, Get 1 Free VIP Loyalty Program" that customers’ love, stores that are bright, colorful and clean, and what we feel are the most knowledgeable associates in the industry. We have a number of policies that our employees adhere to that provide our customers with a unique and better shopping experience.
PB: Last year, Pet Supermarket was acquired by Roark Capital Partners. How has the acquisition impacted the chain? While Roark also owns Pet Valu, is it safe to assume that Pet Supermarket will continue to operate as a separate business?
Holtz: The acquisition by Roark Capital Partners has impacted our long-term growth strategy by providing the capital to grow. Pet Supermarket will continue to operate as a separate business.
PB: While Pet Supermarket's growth was originally limited to the southeast region, I you've expanded into the Dallas and Northern California and Nevada markets. What prompted this departure from your original focus? Can we expect to see Pet Supermarket similar expansion in the future?
Holtz: Pet Supermarket has served the Reno/Sparks market in Nevada and the Lake Tahoe market in California for a number of years, but our move into Dallas and other markets in Texas has only recently begun. We are always looking for opportunities where our business model will be successful. Our team looks at logistics, geographic relation to other stores, existing competition, area demand, demographics and more. We are continuing to find sites that are further from our corporate office in Sunrise, Fla.
PB: While few other pet specialty chains have enjoyed the same level of success as Pet Supermarket, the past several years have been quite good for regional pet store chains in general. What do you think is driving this overall success in the channel? What are you expectations for the future of regional pet chains?
Holtz: We feel that the future of regional pet chains is strong. We are not as impacted by ecommerce and economic instability as some other traditional retailers. We’ve found that the size of our stores is conducive to providing a convenient, personal shopping experience for our customers. Shopping for your pets should be easy and fun. We know we’ve found that mix!