A Winning Approach



What makes Pet Supplies Plus (PSP) a leader in the retail pet industry?

After spending several days interviewing its senior leadership for this month’s cover story announcing the chain as Pet Business’ 2016 Retailer of the Year, it was clear that this is an operation with vision—and the resources to back it up. The bottom line is that the executive team has a plan designed to capture the attention of consumers and do all they can to never lose these shoppers once they come into the store. 

The key here is that Pet Supplies Plus has the backing of a private-equity company that believes in its mission. Irving Place Capital has given senior leadership the money and the freedom to invest where necessary to continue to make the chain a major player in the retail pet world. It appears they are spending that money wisely. 

PSP’s vision starts with connecting with consumers in their local areas. As CEO Chris Rowland puts it, the plan is to own its neighborhood—the area about two to three miles around each store. To do so, the chain has implemented merchandising and marketing strategies designed to make it as easy as possible for shoppers to visit the stores, and then win them over with a lethal combination of kindness, attention and expertise. 

The chain is also investing in its relationships with suppliers to make sure that consumers have a broad selection of merchandise to choose from across a number of different price points. 

The strategy is working in spades. Pet Supplies Plus now operates more than 360 stores—almost equally divided between company-owned units and franchise units—in 27 states, and annual sales are quickly approaching the $1-billion mark. On top of that, the chain is opening about 50 stores a year and moving into new states as quickly as possible. Company officials confidently say that they will be operating as many as 1,000 units in the near future. 

In the end, though, a retail chain is only as good as its employees—both at the store level and at corporate headquarters. Pet Supplies Plus appears to be ahead of the game on this front too. Store-level workers seem to stick around a bit longer than at other chains, probably because of a combination of great work environment and a commitment by these workers to the pet category. 

Put this all together and you have a winning operation—one run so well that it made our choice for 2016 Retailer of the Year way too easy.


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