Diane Holtz, president of Pet Supermarket, said she changes merchandise in the chain of specialty retail stores to keep up with pet “fashions.” (Carline Jean, Sun Sentinel / March 29, 2012)
A South Florida businesswoman has landed on top of an annual ranking of Florida’s women-owned companies.
Diane Holtz, president of Pet Supermarket, said she redesigned the stores in the Sunrise-based pet store chain to be “what women want in shopping:” clean, colorful and featuring new products each week.
When judged by its $213 million in revenue, Pet Supermarket was No. 1 among 50 organizations ranked by The Commonwealth Institute South Florida in its annual survey of women-owned businesses.
Pet Supermarket is the Nordstrom of pet stores, providing top-of-the line pet toys, treats and supplies, Holtz said.
The store also has to provide good value for the money, Holtz said, because “consumers are much more aware of their money, especially when gas prices are going up.”
Customers tend to come to the stores because they need pet food and supplies. But the stores are designed to also sell “wants,” such as pet toys and luxuries. Dog food is in the back of the stores so shoppers pass by merchandise.
The model is working well, with sales growing from $184 million to $213 million in 2010-2011, said Holtz, who has been the CEO for 10 years. The retailer has 124 stores, mostly in the Southeast, with plans to open 24 new stores this year.
Pet Supermarket’s website also has spurred growth, Holtz said. Customers often check out products online. The website “gives them an idea who you are,” she said.
The store also tries to be interactive with customers, asking them about their pets when they visit the store. On Saturday, Pet Supermarket is holding a “most fashionable pet contest.”
Pet Supermarket, a 40-year-old private company founded by Charles West Jr. of Fort Lauderdale, has 1,400 employees, including about 350 in Broward County. The retailer has 35 stores in South Florida.
With the new stores, Pet Supermarket will hire 240 full- and part-time employees, Holtz said. The company added 180 workers last year.
Pet Supermarket is a niche player in a market dominated by giants Pet Smart and Petco as well as retailers Walmart and Target, Holtz said.
To differentiate itself, Pet Supermarket strives to provide personal service and pet education. “I really work hard at getting a piece of literature to our store every day, information about products we sell — how to sell a bunny correctly. We educate our employees and remind them of pet facts every day,” she said.
Diane Davis, president of The Commonwealth Institute, which sponsored the top women business survey, said women tend to be multi-taskers.
Surveys were completed by 228 women leaders. Of the top 50 women-owned businesses, 30 are in South Florida.
Economic conditions are better than a year ago, according to 43 percent of the businesses. Forty-seven percent expect their businesses will grow moderately this year.
About 50 percent say they expect their workforce to remain the same, and 40 percent expect to moderately increase the size of their workforce.