- Veterinary services and pet product supplier Pets at Home Group booked a 38% fall in annual profit after it had to buy out a number of under-performing joint venture practices.

Pre-tax profit for the 12 months through 28 March fell to £49.6m, even as sales rose 6.9% to £898.9m.

The company held its annual dividend steady at 7.5p per share.

Underlying profit rose 6.1% to £89.7m and the company said it had performed better than it had expected, with its retail division returning to profit growth faster than expected.

'We are trading strongly and taking share across the pet market. Customers are loving our lower prices, the convenience of subscription packages, high quality veterinary care and pet healthplans,' chief executive Peter Pritchard said.

'We launched our pet care strategy last year and we're already making good progress, bringing our Retail and Vet businesses closer together.'

'Our commitment is to make sure pets and their owners get the very best advice, care and products, and we're able to join this up for customers in a way that competitors just can't.'

The company forecast a slight decline in underlying profit for the current financial year as it cuts some of the fees paid by its veterinary practice joint venture partners.

Revenue, however, was expected to grow above the market.

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