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Structural change: Chains are penetrating Europe

The pet trade is going through a process of change all over the world. The trend to chains and multiples is apparent in an increasing number of countries. However, cross-border expansion of the trading groups is clearly being kept within limits because national differences are still very great

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Diner Dog is one of the few Italian multiples in the pet sector.
The American speciality chain Pets Mart is one retailer that had to learn this the hard way. The company was founded in 1987 at Phoenix, Arizona, and has expanded to become the strongest north American specialist trading group with a current total of over 530 branches in the U.S.A. and Canada. It acquired what was at the time the leading UK speciality chain Pet City in 1996 and started off its expansion into Europe full of confidence ­ only to have to break off again after three years full of failures and fiascos. Pets Mart was forced to learn the hard way that a concept which is very strongly geared to the requirements of north American customers cannot readily be transferred to other countries. The failure of Pets Mart in England has frightened off other US chains from any involvement in Europe for the foreseeable future.
Qualipet is the leading specialist retailing group in Switzerland.
Europe's biggest speciality chain, Fressnapf of Germany, has also been forced to discover how difficult it is to transfer a specific concept to another country. The Krefeld-based franchise operation, which has been spoilt by success and which generated sales in excess of 360 mio euro in 2001, currently operates approx. 400 stores in Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Turkey. Though when the company opened several test stores in the Netherlands and Belgium, their lack of success soon forced it to pull out again. Now Fressnapf is risking a second start in the Netherlands in collaboration with the Dutch speciality chain Jumper (cf. report on page 16).
The French garden centre chain Jardiland also occupies a strong position in the pet segment.
The markets of Europe are becoming increasingly integrated, and sooner or later there will be even more cross-border trading groups in the pet sector. Already in many European countries there is an obvious trend towards large, speciality trading groups that are active on a national scale. In France, for example, the market has seen considerable movement since the late nineties. The pet trading scene from Lille to Toulouse is dominated by big food chains like Carrefour, Intermarché, Leclerc and Cora. In the specialist distribution channel it is clear that garden centre chains like Jardiland, Botanique and Truffault are setting the tone. But agricultural trading companies and some from the DIY segment have also discovered the pet segment for themselves and have gone…
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