PR offensive from pet chain

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UK chain Pets at Home will open a store in Spring Valley Industrial Estate, in Braddan, on December 9.

The firm, which has more than 280 stores in the UK, has been interested in the site for more than a year.

It advertised in the Isle of Man Examiner for a manager for an island store in May 2010 but remained tight-lipped over its plans until this week’s announcement.

When the plans were announced there were fears the opening of Pets at Home would be at the expense of other pet shops and at the cost of jobs.

The Manx Independent this week asked how many members of staff would be employed, the services and range of products that will be sold, how big the store is and how much money is being invested in the enterprise.

We were waiting to receive a response as we went to press on Thursday.

However, the company has already launched a charity public relations offensive to win over the Manx public, many of whom may see parallels between the shop opening and jeopardising jobs at local stores and the recent announcement of Tesco’s expansion into Castletown.

The manager is Nigel Thijs. Before the shop opens he is appealing to residents to nominate animal organisations or charities they would like to see work with the store through Support Adoption For Pets, a charity set up by the chain.

The company says it wants the store to be ‘partnered’ with local organisations in time for next month’s opening.

Mr Thijs said: ‘We want to be at the heart of the pet community on the island, supporting local charities and helping them to continue their good work, whether through in-store events, fundraising or donations.’

All of its current stores sell cold water and tropical fish as well as guinea pigs and rabbits.

Many of the larger stores also have grooming salons and veterinary surgeries. Dogs can take part with their owner in the shopping experience. They are offered a free biscuit when they get to the till.

Email nominations to stating Isle of Man in the subject box, or call charity manager Amy Wilson on 0161 486 3774.

The shop will also include a pet adoption centre for the rehoming of rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters (European hamsters are banned in the island but Syrian ones can be kept as pets) and other small animals.

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