Torsten Toeller of the East

Dušan Plaček

Dušan Plaček at his company’s headquarters in 2011.

He is intelligent, eager to learn, curious, extremely communicative: it is not without good reason that many people in the pet supplies sector see Dušan Plaček as the Torsten Toeller of the East.

Even as a primary school pupil, when Dušan Plaček discovered an enthusiasm for breeding aquarium fish, his later career path was predestined. With 250 stores in six countries, his company is now one of the leading pet store chains in Europe. Although he concentrated on wholesal­ing for a long time, the establishment of the Super Zoo chain in 2004 marked a turning point; the focus switched to retailing. Four years later, the company expanded abroad with the acquisition of the Latvian pet supplies chain Dino Zoo and a move by Super Zoo into Slovakia. The takeover of the Polish chain Kakadu (2015), the opening of two large-format stores in Russia (from 2018) and entry into the Romanian market (2020) put the Plaček Group on the map as a major international pet supplies retailer.

Continuous development

Dušan Plaček has developed his retail system a step at a time, shaping a concept that caters to the requirements of the market. By building a large logistics centre at the company headquarters in Pode˘brady, he created an important prerequisite for a constant, reliable supply of goods to his stores. Dušan Plaček was also quick to realise that locations in shopping centres, which are especially popular in Prague, could barely be operated at a profit due to high rents and small retail areas. Preferring attractive retail parks and shopping malls with anchor tenants that generate a heavy footfall, he laid the foundations for a successful concept. This approach also marked him out from the outset from large sections of the Czech pet product business, which operated for the most part in cramped conditions and less appealing locations. It was important from the start for Dušan Plaček to create large, decorative live pet departments in his stores that were properly designed to accommodate pets and would prove an attraction not only for adults, but for junior pet enthusiasts.

Dušan Plaček and his team also turned their attention to linking the bricks-and-mortar trade with online shopping. The pilot store opened in the Prague suburb of Zličin in 2019 features for the first time a number of e-shop terminals at which customers can directly order products that are not currently available in store. The new concept has since been implemented in all new stores in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. During the coronavirus crisis in particular, in which many Czech and Slovakian pet owners have done their shopping on the Internet, the store group has benefited from being well organised both on the high street and online. In the Czech Republic and Slovakia above all, the company has recorded a big increase in sales.

A host of new plans

It is still not enough, however. The thought that a large number of pet owners also live in rural areas prompted the group to extend the Super Zoo concept introduced in Prague to smaller retail areas, too. The 250th store of the Plaček Group, which opened in Jablunkov this summer, picks up on many ideas from the Prague pilot store while offering a smaller assortment geared primarily to the local store format.

Anyone who knows Dušan Plaček will know that he won't be taking his foot off the accelerator any time soon. In 2021, the company marks its 30th anniversary. It also plans to open 40 new stores and is considering aligning the product range in all country markets. Scientists say that the cognitive abilities only reach their peak at 30. If that applies to the Placˇek Group, there's still plenty to come from the company in the next few years.

Torsten Toeller: "Even crazier than me"

I warmly congratulate Dušan and his team on reaching 250 stores. We know and esteem each other greatly, and I may say very amicably and with the highest regard that Dušan is a really crazy guy in the pet sector. What he has achieved in the Czech Republic and neighbouring countries in the face of all the competition has earned my genuine respect. If there's anyone in our business who appears to be even crazier than me, then this accolade belongs solely to Dušan. On behalf of the entire Fressnapf team, I wish him and his crew all the best.

|28.10.2020 | 09:09


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Veronika Zárybnická

Veronika Zárybnická

Company boss Dušan Plaček cites "the people around me" as the chief reason for his business success. We introduce some of these people below.

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