Retailer Pets at Home has thanked the rising trend for well-groomed dogs for helping it notch up a record Christmas as sales surged higher.

The group said it groomed 80,000 dogs in its third quarter - with a record 6,023 in a single day and 27,555 in the week before Christmas.

This helped Pets at Home post a 7% hike in like-for-like retail revenues over the 12 weeks to January 2.

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Comparable sales across its veterinary practices lifted 8.9%, helping wider group like-for-like revenues to lift 7.2% in its 12th straight quarter of rising revenues.

Chief executive Peter Pritchard said the grooming trend "tells us everything about the role a dog or cat plays in our family and people want their dogs to look good for Christmas too".

He added that while the numbers of dogs kept as pets has largely remained the same in the UK, breeds that need a lot of grooming have become more popular, such as "anything with an 'oodle' in the name or a Shih Tzu".

The group saw the biggest trading day in its history on December 23 across its stores and website.

Shares lifted 2% after the update.

Mr Pritchard said: "Against a backdrop of unprecedented consumer volatility, our continued momentum leaves us very much on track with our plans for the year."

The figures show Pets at Home delivered an impressive online performance, with web sales jumping 23.4% in the quarter.

The group is also growing its subscription customer base - now more than 850,000 - as it looks to branch out from being a retailer to offering services such as grooming, flea treatment and veterinary care, and wants this side of the business to eventually account for 50% of revenues.

JD Wetherspoon has warned that its debt would pile up by the end of the financial year as the company invested millions in new pubs and refurbishments.

The pub chain said net debt is likely to land between £780 million and £820 million, "slightly higher than previously anticipated".

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It came as the business spent more money in the year than it was expecting, including £80 million extending pubs and opening new ones.

It has also spent £57 million so far this year buying 18 pubs that it used to rent.

The business expects to spend a further £28 million buying freeholds, it said, totalling around £8 million more than in the 2019 financial year.

It comes as the firm reported a 4.7% rise in like-for-like sales over the first 12 weeks of its second quarter, ending January 19.

Total sales, meanwhile, rose 4.2%.

In 25 weeks since Wetherspoon kicked off its financial year, the pub chain has seen like-for-like sales up 5% and total sales rising 4.9%.

It has opened one new pub and sold five in the period.

The chain plans another 10 to 15 openings during the financial year.
"We continue to anticipate a trading outcome for this financial year in line with our previous expectations," said Tim Martin, the company's chairman.

A third of new Premier Inn hotels due to open this year are in seaside or coastal locations.

The chain, owned by Whitbread, is opening 37 hotels with around 4,000 rooms this calendar year.

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Simon Ewins, managing director of Premier Inn, said: "Britain's coastline is one of the most beautiful in the world but for too long, many of our seaside towns have suffered from a lack of investment.

"We're flying the flag for the great British coast and couldn't be more thrilled our new wave of hotel openings, including in prime locations in Blackpool, Newquay and Scarborough, will make the seaside more accessible for holidaymakers to enjoy than ever."

More than 1,000 rooms opened by the chain this year will be in seaside or coastal locations.

The company has pledged that up to 80% of new jobs in such hotels will go to people previously not in education, employment or training.