• Growth in dog grooming helps U.K. pet-shop chain boost sales
  • Company groomed nearly 12,000 dogs in week before Christmas

How many times do you say “I love you” to your pet each day? Pets at Home Group Plc, the U.K.’s leading pet-shop chain, wants to know the answer.

The retailer is posing the question as part of a shopper survey as it seeks to unearth its most valuable customers -- those who see their pet as part of the family and are more likely to splash out on a Christmas advent calendar for their cat or a professional clean for their pooch.

Twitter: Pets at Home on Twitter

“If you consider your pet to be a part of your family, then you’re proud of how they look,” Chief Executive Officer Nick Wood said by phone after the company reported 2.2 percent growth in third-quarter sales.

In the week running up to Christmas, Pets at Home groomed nearly 12,000 dogs, and Wood said that’s just the beginning. He pointed to the U.S., where about 10 percent of dog owners give their pooch the beauty treatment, compared with about 4 percent in the U.K.

Along with veterinary care and free in-store health checkups, grooming forms part of Pets at Home’s services business, where third-quarter sales rose 27 percent to 17.8 million pounds ($25 million), or 8.5 percent on a like-for-like basis.

The sales gave a lift to the retailer’s shares, which were up 5 percent at 244.9 pence at 11:09 a.m. in London, even as stocks plunged across Europe.

Pets at Home is also targeting customers that put a high price on the wellbeing of their furry companions through products such as advanced nutrition food, Wood said.

“Feed your pet a healthier diet and you’ll have a healthier life with them,” he said.

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