QUESTIONS have been raised over the future of a number of in-house vet branches at a popular pet store after the company reported falling profits.

Pets at Home has branches in Worcester, Evesham and Malvern and is currently in the process of a review into operations across the country.

This comes after the company’s pre-tax profits crashed 80.5 per cent to £8 million in the six months to October 11.

As a result, the firm is looking into buying out 55 of its 471 joint venture pet practices with around 30 of those going under review for possible closure.

The branches in Worcester, Malvern and Evesham are all joint-venture practices, with an in-store veterinary centre run by Vets 4 Pets.

A spokesman for Pets at Home said: “We want to stress that closure is not the only option.

“This announcement has been taken out of proportion slightly - this is very much a review into practices that are not performing as we would like.

“We cannot say at the moment which specific regions or practices will be looked at as the review is still ongoing, but closure is not the definitive option, rather it is one option among many.

“This review is principally looking at what changes need to be made to the way practices operate to continue to get the best results.”

Group chief executive Peter Pritchard said: “Since becoming the group CEO in May, I have had the opportunity to take stock of the wider group and shape my view of our future.

“Reviewing our vet group has been a priority. I recognise we have grown at pace and, more recently, have seen the pressure that rising costs and our fees are placing on this young business.”

Of the practices under review, Pets at Home said it will look to pay off outstanding debts, settling any liabilities for third-party bank loans and leases on behalf of the practice.