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France - Specialist retailers gain ground

In France the specialist pet trade was for many years relatively insignificant. However, this situation seems gradually to be changing

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The total volume of the French pet market is estimated at approximately 19 bn francs (approx. 2.7 bn euro), an ample sales pie from which the specialist pet trade has so far had only a few crumbs at most. But this is about to change. The number of stores is growing, and some multiples that were previously only regionally active are crystallising out more and more into respectable chains with a claim to national coverage. The following are examples of such chains:
City-Zoo: Brought into existence by Mathieu Bonnier in 1993, the company in which BNP Paribas and Avenir Entreprises have a stake as minority investors now has eight large-format specialist pet stores with live animals at Grenoble, Marseille, Montpellier, Nantes, Angers, Orléans, Toulouse and Dijon. Two of them  the stores at Dijon and Toulouse  were last autumn taken over by the group's former competitor Mille Amis. City-Zoo is planning to open about four new stores this year too.
City-Zoo is one of the leading specialist pet retail groups in France.
Animal Planet: With 24 stores at present, 21 of them in France and 3 in Belgium, this company is the shooting star of the French pet trade. The firm is managed by Philippe and Jacques Paré, who also brought into being the Maxi Toys chain, which already has a total of 110 sales outlets. This year Animal Planet intends to open ten stores in France, two in Belgium and one in Luxembourg.
Animal Planet is the shooting star of the French pet trade.
Animalis: The Truffault garden centre chain, which currently operates eight Animalis specialist pet stores, is a subsidiary of the mighty Cora trading group. In November the latter acquired the Mille Amis specialist pet chain with its current total of 13 stores. The Mille Amis outlets are gradually to be transformed into Animalis stores. Experts on the French market are confident that Animalis will make its presence felt in a variety of different ways over the next few years.
Positioned within the specialist pet trade alongside these three upwardly mobile retail groups are numerous other multiples with a mainly regional orientation: the Castorama subsidiary Amiland, the Alsatian group Espace Animal's, and the French subsidiary of the US franchise group Petland, to name but a few. It remains to be seen how far they will succeed in achieving further growth in the years to come.
The garden centre chain Botanic has outstanding pet departments.
The specialist trade still continues at present to be dominated by strong garden…
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