after record-breaking results in 2021, Maxi Zoo maintains its forecast despite the war in Ukraine

The Maxi Zoo brand was created by a Grenoble veterinarian in 2004 and has undergone three decades of growth in the pet market, first under the name City Zoo. It was finally bought in 2004 by the German group Fressnapf, to take a new name: Maxi Zoo and ambitions reinforced on a French scale. Just over fifteen years later, it was during the health crisis, in 2021, that Maxi Zoo had its best growth: +28.3%, bringing its revenue up to 330 million euros.

With headquarters still located in Nord-Isère, in the Vaulx-Milieu, Maxi Zoo had set out to expand: Since 2015, it has opened nearly 200 new stores (including 46 in 2021) for a network that now has a total of 280 outlets .

And he is surfing today in a market accelerated by the health crisis: “ the market was already growing by 3 to 4% a year and the Covid crisis has again focused the French on their family and their animals. This was for many an opportunity to adopt another animal in the household or take one to those who did not have one and develop their activities with it. », Analyzes Jan Wejbrandt, President of Maxi Zoo France. results? Overall market growth has accelerated to an average of 8-9% per year between 2020 and 2021.

The European market still needs to be developed

This was a trend that was already on the way and that the US is more advanced on than us because 75% of households already have a pet, compared to 50% in France. However, there is still great development potential here, and it is a trend that is more widespread throughout Europe. Says Jan Wejbrandt. However, with most of the market focused on dogs and cats (which drain up to 75 to 80% of sales), the Maxi Zoo brand notes that fish are also among the sought-after animals.

“The market weighs almost 5 billion euros in France, including food, but also a wide range of accessories, toys, bedding, cords and even necklaces,” recalls the president of Maxi Zoo France.

And with the pandemic, the brand has also noticed that the habits of the French have evolved: ” The new habits of teleworking and confinement have meant that families have spent more time with their animals and have wanted to buy more toys and products for socializing or walking.

The ghost of war in Ukraine over raw materials

However, the start of the war in Ukraine could also be felt on several fronts: “dor ten days, we have felt the climate change a little because people are very worried about the global crisis around the war in Ukraine. But it is still too early to see the changes on the spot. We just feel that our members are currently focusing more on their pet food ”evokes Jan Wejbrandt.

The German group does not export to Russia or Ukraine. “ but like any large group, we are present in 11 countries with almost 15,000 employees and 50 nationalities ”.

Its President France adds “Although we do not operate on site, we certainly have Ukrainian employees, and that is why we have implemented an internal directive, which states that if employees need support or time to organize or repatriate their family, we be supportive and flexible. A collection of food for animals abandoned during this conflict was also engaged.

But it is also on its own supplies that the war in Ukraine could have consequences:

“Over the last few months, we have already encountered high inflation because all raw materials increased, such as wheat, but also the metals, the packaging that make up our products. And we expect that with this crisis, the increase will continue, because Ukraine and Russia between them are the first major producer in the world of grain and also of many metals ”.

And to add: It is still difficult to quantify it, but we are sure that it will have an impact on the price of raw materials in the long run ”.

No shortage, but alternative offers

For the time being, the group does not strictly fear shortages: “ Since the health crisis, we have filled up by making massive purchases upstream, but if the conflict continues, there may be a shortage of certain references that customers are in great demand for. This was the case, for example, during the Covid crisis, especially for certain cat litter products, but where we could offer similar products that still allow us to serve our customers. ”

Despite this new crisis, the group plans to continue the trend that has begun: “Experience shows that during crises, people tend to focus on their family again, just like what we observed during the pandemic. Therefore, I am generally optimistic about the development in demand in the animal market, ”says Jan Wejbrandt.

On the menu opening 45 new stores and recruiting 300 employees on permanent contracts throughout France to develop its positioning in medium-sized cities. Declared goal: to be a maximum of 20 minutes from the location of each person with a pet.

With this in mind, the network also last year tested a new concept with so-called “extra small” surfaces (200m2) intended for the heart of larger cities. “Because if we want to fulfill our promise everywhere, we must also create Maxi Zoos in the heart of Lyon or Paris”assures the President of Maxi Zoo France.

Maxi Zoo is firm on its omnichannel positioning with the long-term goal of reaching 14% of its online revenue (current amount: NC), and Maxi Zoo is currently in the experimental phase of a new pilot store concept in the Grenoble region, which aims to transform its store into a place of experience for its customers, through another service proposal, as well as a new layout of the premises.

“We want to go from a provider of animal products to a provider of care, because without becoming a veterinarian, our mission now is to support our customers with advice on all the different phases of pet life”. For this is the group, which already has an internal training academy and which is also recruiting two new coaches.