CORONA magazine | Spain and Portugal


From the Med to the Atlantic

pet retail chains Spain and Portugal, pet retailer Spain and Portugal

Extensive hygiene measures were instigated at Petoutlet in Portugal.

Spain and Portugal were particularly hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. The editors of PET worldwide asked how the leading pet retail chains and an independent pet retailer reacted.

Compared with other countries in central Europe, Spain and Portugal are quite poor nations, heavily in debt and still not fully over the effects of the 2008 recession. When the coronavirus pandemic broke out, the Portuguese people, its political parties and government were swift to react by closing ranks. By contrast, Spain responded to the crisis very late and hesitantly.

At the start of the pandemic, customers in Spain turned increasingly to shopping online. Rafael Martinez-Avial of Tiendanimal reports that sales doubled, while the number of purchases in stationary stores also increased. "Service, speed and reliable delivery became the major challenges for our work in this phase," recounts the Tiendanimal boss. In the stores, extensive hygiene measures, access restrictions and safety distancing were introduced. "Despite the coronavirus pandemic, our short- and medium-term plans for expansion have been maintained and even strengthened," says Rafael Martinez-Avial in conclusion.

It's a similar picture at the company's Spanish rival Kiwoko: "We have provided pet owners with assistance in the form of information, videos and advice on how to adapt to this phase and help their pets," a company spokeswoman states. Kiwoko focused more than ever on social engagement, keeping its stores open and also its veterinary clinics for emergency cases. "The necessary hygiene and disinfection measures were prioritised in all our facilities as well as additional safety precautions for our teams and the customers," stated Kiwoko. A stronger bond was observed between people and their pets, as people were spending more time at home. Many families were emboldened to adopt a pet, because they had more time to care for them.

The view across to Portugal Adao Teixeira operates around 40

Petlandia/Petoutlet stores. He saw the coronavirus pandemic as an invisible enemy that could seriously endanger his life's work that he had spent 30 years developing: "If you have a company that has specialised in personal service and contact with the customers, this crisis presents a challenge that you have to overcome. But this challenge also offers opportunities to improve further."
The entrepreneur had to manage 40 stores, adapting each store individually to its customers and environment with different schedules and structures, as stores in shopping malls are different from high street stores. "We were able to maintain our commitment to our customers and we have succeeded in satisfying everyone's needs."

Lesson learned?

"The coronavirus has shown clearly what might happen entirely naturally in the coming years as a result of globalisation," fears Marta Farell-Sostres. She runs Morera Zoo in Sabadell, north of Barcelona. During the crisis, a series of measures were taken that substantially slowed down product procurement, which has enabled the businesswoman to maintain liquidity in the face of a considerable drop in income. She also agreed longer payment terms for invoices with the suppliers. Opening times were cut to 60 per cent. She is critical of the support offered by Madrid: "State aid was scarce, deficient and shameful. My employees have still not received unemployment support for these months," she complains.

The amount of products on sale has now fallen by around ten per cent, in particular at the expense of the variety of products of the same type. The young entrepreneur is full of praise for her customers: "They have stood by us in all the decisions we have taken and have demonstrated their loyalty to us." The message Marta Farell Sostres passes on to her colleagues in the pet product sector is that "the economic performance of companies and individuals must be based on the ability to save when times are good and to provide liquidity. This is doubtless the best way of combating possible uncertainties and setbacks in life. It is our duty to draw conclusions from what has happened with this pandemic and to implement these in our work." 


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