UPDATE 1-Pets at Home buys telehealth provider TVC for 15 million pounds

(Adds background, details, CEO comment)

Nov 30 (Reuters) – Pets at Home Group said on Monday it had bought veterinary telehealth provider The Vet Connection for 15 million pounds ($20.03 million) as it looks to capitalise on remote consultations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With pet adoption increasing worldwide during the pandemic, the telemedicine market has also grown as people move to virtual consultations amid COVID-19 restrictions.

“The acquisition of TVC marks an important next step in the development of our digital capabilities providing trusted advice and even more convenient pet care services,” CEO Peter Pritchard said.

Pets at Home Group last week warned of an uncertain outlook in the initial weeks of a fresh UK lockdown, even as it said operations had continued to perform well in the current quarter on sustained demand for dog food, cat litter and flea collars.

Traditional telehealth service providers such as the U.S.-listed Teladoc Health Inc have seen a surge in demand as shelter-in-place restrictions to control the pandemic prompt people to turn to virtual consultation.

TVC already conducts about 90,000 remote consultations each year.

Pets at Home, which operates 451 retail stores, said the deal will be financed by the company’s existing cash reserves.

Shares of the company were up 1% in early trade. ($1 = 0.7488 pounds) (Reporting by Jasmine I S in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi)

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