Fur flies as small pet shops protest at arrival of superstore

A group of local pet store owners in Sheffield have got together to petitionagainst another Pets at Home superstore which is to open in Sheffield. David Price, of Fisher's Pet Store in Hillsborough, centre, with, from left Les Ibbotson, Wayne Miles, Lee Stocks and Jacqueline Fisher
A group of local pet store owners in Sheffield have got together to petitionagainst another Pets at Home superstore which is to open in Sheffield. David Price, of Fisher's Pet Store in Hillsborough, centre, with, from left Les Ibbotson, Wayne Miles, Lee Stocks and Jacqueline Fisher
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A PET shop owner is protesting against a new animal superstore in Sheffield which he says will drive customers away from smaller businesses.

David Price runs Fishers Pet Store on Hillsborough Road, Hillsborough, and has collected signatures from 12 local shops concerned about the impact of the Pets At Home store on the Kilner Way retail park in Wadsley Bridge.

David, aged 45, who runs his shop with wife Jacqueline Fisher, 46, says the superstore will have a “devastating effect” on small pet shops by offering many services under one roof, cheaper products, longer opening and free parking.

But a spokesman for Pets At Home, which now owns two Sheffield branches in Drakehouse and Heeley, said the chain “believes in a competitive market” and will offer “convenience, value and choice” to pet owners.

Preparations for the opening are under way, with jobs advertised for deputy and assistant managers and stylists.

Businesses supporting David’s protest include South Yorkshire Animal Rescue in Walkley, Sheffield Aquatics on Langsett Road, and Stannington Pets and Garden Supplies.

Fishers Pet Store has been family-owned for nearly 40 years. David and Jacqueline took over 15 years ago.

David, of Hollingbush Lane, Deepcar, said: “This is going to have a ripple effect on everybody.

“There will be lots of parking – it’s very difficult to get to our shop now because of the tram gate. The way the traffic is set up, it’s actually going to lead them up there.

“It’ll be open seven days a week. We could, but it’s nice to have a day off.

“They sell pets and reptiles, they have an in-house vet and a dog grooming parlour. It affects a lot more people than you would think. It will undoubtedly be tragic for us.”

David said he wrote to Pets At Home’s chairman, Tony DeNunzio, accusing the chain of attempting to “completely dominate” the market here.

Louise Stonier, the firm’s legal director, replied saying she had passed his letter on to the “appropriate authority” because of his “anti-competitive threats” and “intention to start a slur campaign”.

The Pets At Home spokesman said: “Since opening our first store in Drakehouse in 1998 we have created 37 new jobs and invested heavily in training and career development there and at our Heeley store.

“Mr Price is entitled to his views but Pets At Home firmly believes in a competitive market and our commitment remains to our customers and our store colleagues.

“We believe with a new store at Kilner Way we will be able to offer convenience, value, and choice to pet lovers.

“We will be creating a further 25 jobs and bringing our total investment in Sheffield to upwards of £1 million.”