Prepare for mass flea outbreak in three weeks' time, Pets at Home boss warns

Joe Gamp
Contributor, Yahoo News UK
The recent heatwave and heavy rain has created an ideal breeding ground for fleas (GETTY)

A leading pet retailer has warned UK families to prepare for a mass outbreak of fleas among their pets following the recent extreme weather conditions.

In July, temperatures reaching record breaking highs, before storms brought torrential rainfall and flooding across the country.

As a result, Pets at Home Chief Executive Peter Pritchard said the recent conditions have created the ideal breeding ground for the creatures.

Mr Pritchard said: “In about three weeks’ time, we will see a mass outbreak of fleas.”

'In about three weeks’ time, we will see a mass outbreak of fleas' (GETTY)

The warning comes as the boss also revealed that sales of cooling products for dogs were off the scale - as owners attempted to keep their pets cool in record-breaking temperatures.

Mr Pritchard said: “Last week, we could not sell enough cooling products – cooling mats, cooling bottles, that sort of thing.

“We have to make that decision (to stock lots of cooling products) six months ahead. It’s always a gamble but we always buy heavy on heating and cooling.”

His comments come as the retailer said sales have jumped in the 16 weeks to July 18 by 9.9% to £303.4million, compared with the same period a year ago.

The figures mean the retailer have grown every quarter for the last 10 quarters.

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Mr Pritchard said the focus on services, such as vets, grooming and flea treatments, was particularly positive and drove sales in the retail division.

He added: “When you speak to customers, they just think about shopping being easy, whether they want to shop online or in store or a combination of the two. They want convenience and speed.”

The company’s strong growth comes at a time when much of the high street is struggling, with consumer uncertainty, business rates and high rent being blamed.

But Mr Pritchard said he felt the pets business was reasonably secure.

Sales at the retailer jumped n the 16 weeks to July 18 by 9.9% to £303.4million, due to extreme weather (GETTY)

He explained: “People always focus on family, and pets are part of the family. We’re not recession proof, but I think we’re recession friendly.”

It follows Bank of England governor Mark Carney saying there is a one-in-three chance of a recession in the UK - regardless of the outcome of Brexit.

Pets at Home said it was well prepared for a potential no-deal Brexit, having practised in the lead-up to the previous Brexit deadline of March 31.

He said: “We’ve done this before – we’re focusing on continuity of supply. We’re conscious we don’t want to run out of stock.”