Bunnings gears up to be dog’s best friend with expanded pet range

Hardware giant Bunnings is hoping shoppers add will add dog food and toys to their shopping lists when heading in store as the retailer launches a significant expansion of its pet merchandise business.

Bunnings will throw down a competitive challenge to specialty pet retailers, which have boomed since the COVID era, when it expands its range from a couple of hundred items to close to 1000 products from late March.

Bunnings boss Michael Schneider with dog Henry. The DIY giant is expanding its pet goods range to 1000 items.

The DIY giant has long been a fan of furry friends, and lets shoppers bring their pets in store provided they are carried, on a lead, or secured in a shopping trolley.

Bunnings boss Mike Schneider said the option of bringing a pet to Bunnings had become more popular post-COVID, which the company hopes will boost the popularity of its pet category.

“We have an internal page called Bunnings Pet Spotting – we have 10,000 of our team signed up to that page who share photos of dogs and their owners coming into our stores … our team members like to share the space,” he said.

“I think the fact that you are already there with your pet creates a natural habitat for people to come in and shop [for them].”

‘We’ve seen some really significant shifts at a societal level around how we think about four-legged friends in our homes.’

Schneider said the business would be able to offer competitive prices at a time when animals were becoming a larger part of Australian family life.

“We’ve seen some really significant shifts at a societal level around how we think about four-legged friends in our homes,” he said. “This is an up to $10 billion category, depending on how you look at it.”

Bunnings already offers a limited number of pet goods across its warehouses, including dog beds, kennels and animal hutches. But the expansion into dry food, materials and toys for dogs, cats and birds could have a big impact on competition in the pets good space, which has been dominated by specialty retailers including PETstock and Pet Circle.

In late 2022, supermarket giant Woolworths made moved into the pet goods space, with a $586 million investment in the Ballarat-founded PETstock.

Schneider said Bunnings would be strategic about its expansion, focusing on general merchandise rather than services such as grooming or vet-care in store. Despite being a fan of llamas and alpacas, he said the company was focused on products for the most commonly owned pets – dogs, cats and birds.

While Bunnings’ focus might be more limited than that of specialist pet shops, competition could intensify around everyday pet essentials, with Bunnings’ promise to offer the lowest price on stocked items putting the heat on other retailers.

“Our ability to buy bulk volume products, to merchandise that in an appealing way” is the group’s main strength when it comes to the animal products market, Schneider said.

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