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UK's Pets at Home picks Sky's McGowan as first female CEO

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By Reuters

By Juliette Portala

-Sky UK executive Lyssa McGowan will become the first female chief executive of Pets at Home, Britain’s largest pet supplies retailer said on Monday.

McGowan, 44, who has spent the past 11 years at the British media conglomerate and most recently served as its chief consumer officer, will succeed Peter Pritchard on June 1.

She will take over at a time when Pets at Home is facing inflationary pressures across its supply chain and as shares tapered off from highs seen in 2021.

With a background of managing product, service and subscription-led businesses, McGowan has “significant experience in customer and digital-first initiatives across multiple channels and sites”, Pets at Home’s chairman Ian Burke said.

Analysts at Liberum pointed out that “McGowan as CEO represents a high quality, very experienced hire”.

UK FTSE 350 boards have made progress on gender diversity, but there are still too few women in roles such as chair, CEO and finance chief, a report by Cranfield University’s School of Management found in October.

That list may grow this year as McGowan will be joining Jennie Daly, named CEO of bluechip homebuilder Taylor Wimpey on Monday, and Deanna Oppenheimer, who was appointed chair of Holiday Inn owner IHG last month.

Pritchard, 51, who agreed in November to step down, has been crucial to Pets at Home’s strategy development, and during his tenure, the group exceeded for the first time billion pounds ($1.36 billion) in annual retail sales.

Pets at Home, which also offers grooming and veterinary services, in January forecast record profit growth this year after work-from-home policies and lockdowns spurred animal adoptions in Britain.

The London-listed company is in “an enviable position”, brokerage Liberum said, but its “shares look too cheap”.

The stock has dropped nearly 12% so far this year.

($1 = 0.7384 pounds)