RealTime IT News

Pets.com to Dip Into UK Market

Online pet product supplier Pets.com this week made a dash for worldwide expansion by agreeing to make an equity investment in Petspark.com, a UK-based community site.

With the deal, Pets.com said it will be able to leverage its commitment to consumers, expertise in the pet e-commerce space and deep knowledge of the pet industry with a local understanding of the trends, needs and interests of UK pet owners.

Petspark.com is a new, "pure play" Web site which offers pet owners pet-related services including products, expert advice from veterinarians and animal behaviorists and a growing online community of pet owners. In addition, the Web site features a cast of lively cartoon characters, games and children's learning activities.

The Pets.com relationship with Petspark.com will largely resemble that of its current relationship with lead investor Amazon.com. (AMZN). Pets.com will create its own "buddy system" with Petspark.com, providing direct access for the Petspark.com management team to the Pets.com management team for advice and strategic planning. Pets.com will have a member on the Petspark.com board of directors.

Pets.com said it strategically chose to expand first into the United Kingdom. The UK's multi-billion dollar pet industry is the largest in Europe. There are over 52 million pets in the U.K., with over half of all households owning at least one pet. In addition, like the United States, the UK offers great opportunity for online pet retailers because the bricks and mortar pet retailers are fragmented, with no one chain owning more than 11 percent of the market.

"Our strategic alliance with Pets.com will be important in helping establish Petspark.com as a UK online pet leader," said Nicholas Barnard, Petspark.com CEO. "Teaming up with Pets.com will enable us to learn from their experiences and to bring their commitment to great customer service, quality products and passion for the pet owner to our company and country."