Officially a Very Good
Company to Work For

Officially a Very Good
Company to Work For

Officially an Outstanding
Company to Work For

Officially an Outstanding
Company to Work For

Officially a World Class
Company to Work For

Officially a World Class
Company to Work For

Officially a Good
Company to Work For

Officially a Good
Company to Work For

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1
Best Company to work for in the UK
th
Best Company
to work for

PETS AT HOME shows its pedigree by being voted top dog in our Best Big Company to Work For competition, moving up from second place last year. No organisation on our list scores better for questions about their managers and colleagues, how they feel about the company, the opportunities for personal growth and the firm's approach to giving something back. Ranking second in our other three categories (Fair Deal, Wellbeing and Leadership), the specialist petcare retailer records 48 top-two scores in our 70-point questionnaire, more than double its tally last year and three times that of its closest rival, Iceland. Employees have more fun with colleagues than those at any other big company on the list, returning a positive score of 85%, and they believe the Cheshire-based business, which rehoused 57,000 animals last year, makes a real difference to the world (78%, also first on our list). “I absolutely love my job,” says Claire Nixon, 34, manager of the Groom Room at the store at Fort Kinnaird in Edinburgh, where dog pampering includes facials. “It is not like work. It is the best job in the world.” If salon staff need help with a large newfoundland or any jittery four-legged client, their colleagues on the shop floor are happy to lend a hand. “We help each other out,” says store boss Annie Campbell, who recently won Retail Week's Scotland and Ireland store manager of the year award. “You can't do it on your own.” Employees are excited about where the organisation is going (78%) and believe they can make a valuable contribution to the success (83%) of Pets at Home, which in 21 years has grown to become the country's largest petcare specialist with more than 330 stores, 5,930 staff and a 14% slice of a market worth £3.5bn. All staff, 92% of whom own pets, get training in petcare, products and the pets they sell, which can range from pink-tongued skinks to rabbits, fish, snakes and tarantulas, and it's a benefit to them personally (79%). “I have learnt a lot,” says animal-lover Kieran Lambert, who joined a year-and-a-half ago after working in a curtain shop. “You get invaluable information,” says the 27-year-old, who finds the experience he gains beneficial for his future, a view shared across the company (79%). Staff earn as they learn under the firm's development programme, which links pay to levels of knowledge, and they can gain a range of skills from qualifying to sell restricted medicines to being trained to microchip animals. The policy of promoting internally has seen more than 90% of assistant store managers and area managers rising through the ranks. Louise Barden, 25, assistant manager at the Fort Kinnaird store, started part-time in Darlington nine years ago. “It was a weekend job to bring in a little bit of money to go on holiday with my friends and afford nice things,” says Barden, who transferred to Edinburgh when she was studying for a degree in dance. “The development of people is a fundamental part of a successful business,” says new chief executive Nick Wood, who joined last June. Previously the boss at American Golf, and the owner of two bichon frise dogs, he adds: “It can't be a successful business without great colleagues. “The bit that is so fascinating around the business is the culture. I always think of the CEO at the bottom because the people who are the most important are the people who interact with the customer and clients.” Wood runs the firm on sound moral principles (77%), say staff. Almost two-thirds of employees earn £15,000 or less, reflecting the fact that more than half work part-time, and while it is not a fortune, staff at only one other firm are more content with their pay and benefits (70%). The organisation also encourages charitable activities (91%) at work. Last year it raised more than £1.6m for its Support Adoption for Pets charity, which also distributes cash to other animal charities.

Featured Workplace Factors

Giving Something Back

75% of staff agreed

I am happy with the pay and benefits I receive in this job

In retail Pets at Home have a structured training programme which will take colleagues from part time roles through to Store Manager and beyond! The company's success at internal promotions is very strong. Using the Area Manager population as an example, 20 out of 22 Area Managers were promoted from Store Manager. Pets at Home have the advantage of being able to offer an alternative career path to their colleagues who want to become qualified pet groomers. The company takes their retail colleagues through Pets at Home's 'Power to your Paws' programme, that gives them all of the required technical skills they need to become professional pet groomers. Pets at Home's development programmes play a vital part in the company's commercial growth, as they would not be able to continue to expand at the rapid rate they are without the internal candidates coming up through the ranks to become Store, Deputy and Assistant Managers, full time colleagues, Grooming Salon Managers and Stylists.

My Team

87% of staff agreed

This job is good for my own personal growth

Each year Pets at Home hold their annual conference for the retail team. Last year the company had an Olympic theme, where they highlighted their achievements from the previous year and outlined their goals for the year ahead. Pets at Home asked their colleagues to 'Pick it Up & Pass It On' to cascade these messages back to the teams in store. The company also used the conference as an opportunity to launch their new first value of putting pets before profit. They celebrated success by awarding a 'Pet Star' award to Kate Jones, Customer and Culture Manager, for her achievements during her 15 years' service and most recently in setting up the Customer Helpdesk. The evening was rounded off by a celebration of hero's, both sporting and otherwise, which invariably lead to some interesting fancy dress outfits and a lot of dancing!

Leadership

87% of staff agreed

I feel that my manager talks openly and honestly with me

In retail Pets at Home have a structured training programme which will take colleagues from part time roles through to Store Manager and beyond! The company's success at internal promotions is very strong. Using the Area Manager population as an example, 20 out of 22 Area Managers were promoted from Store Manager. Pets at Home have the advantage of being able to offer an alternative career path to their colleagues who want to become qualified pet groomers. The company takes their retail colleagues through Pets at Home's 'Power to your Paws' programme, that gives them all of the required technical skills they need to become professional pet groomers. Pets at Home's development programmes play a vital part in the company's commercial growth, as they would not be able to continue to expand at the rapid rate they are without the internal candidates coming up through the ranks to become Store, Deputy and Assistant Managers, full time colleagues, Grooming Salon Managers and Stylists.

Benefits

Maternity

Companies offering at least 10 weeks’ full pay or generous alternative.

Pensions

Companies offering a final salary scheme to all employees, or one in which the employer's contribution is at least 5%.

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