Pet supplies retailer Tom&Co has had an excellent year, as Belgians spent 7.8 % more on pet food. Expansion into France is now the main priority.
Owners Thierry le Grelle and Lionel Desclée bought the pet shop chain in 2016 from Delhaize, which no longer considered the chain a priority. Two years ago, Philippe Dechamps joined the team. They put a lot of work in: a thorough refresh of the existing stores, the restart of the expansion in France, a major catch-up on e-commerce... Le Grelle acknowledges that there is the wide gap between the potential he saw and transforming it into a reality.
But now, the work seems to be paying off, he told Belgian newspaper De Tijd: turnover in 2020 grew 15 % to 241 million euros. As people spent more time at home last year, they paid more attention to their pets. Many Belgians also took a pet into their homes for the very first time. Tom&Co, celebrating its thirtieth anniversary this year, did however not disclose its profit figures.
On its way to 250 stores
The chain now has 130 stores in Belgium, France and Luxembourg - mostly through franchising. The ambitions are high: nearly doubling that number to 250 stores as soon as possible. "Our goal is to open five stores this year and eventually have 250 franchise branches. We aim to become the European market leader in the pet supply industry", Le Grelle said in a press release.
While its focus rests firmly on France, Tom&Co can profit from its experiences in the last (Covid) year. The chain has worked tirelessly on its online presence and now offers both a click-and-collect service with pick-up within 24 hours and home delivery within 48 hours. Le Grelle acknowledges that they are searching for a balance with the franchisees, as the online orders get processed from the central warehouse. "We are still looking at whether and how we can compensate the franchisees", he says. Also, the way to draw the franchisees into the e-commerce pool is currently under examination.