PetSmart on Thursday announced that Ryan Cohen, the co-founder and CEO of Chewy.com, has stepped down from his day-to-day role as CEO and will be replaced by Sumit Singh, who joined Chewy last year from Amazon.
Singh served as Chewy’s chief operating officer since November 2017, after leaving his post as the director of Amazon Fresh, according to a company press release. Before that he was at Dell, according to the company.
PetSmart acquired the online pet retailer for some $3.35 billion in April 2017 — the biggest e-commerce acquisition ever, topping even Walmart’s $3.3 billion outlay for Jet in 2016.
Pet supply retail has grown in recent years, and grocery stores and general merchandise retailers like Walmart and Target have expanded their offerings. Rising pet ownership in the U.S. helped retailers in the category weather the Great Recession fairly well.
That has led to more spending, research shows. Households that view their dogs as family members spent $438 on average at the vet, compared to $266 in households that view their dog as a "pet or companion," and $190 on those who view their dog as property, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. More Americans are pet owners these days too, with pet ownership in nearly 67 million households, an increase from 53.6% to 56.5% between 2009 and 2013.
PetSmart operates more than 1,600 pet stores in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, as well as more than 200 in-store dog and cat boarding facilities, according to a company press release. The acquisition of Chewy, which the company said continues to operate largely as an independent subsidiary of PetSmart, made sense in this environment, Moody’s Investors Service Vice President Mickey Chadha told Retail Dive in an email last year.
In another report from that time, Moody's analysts noted that legacy retailers are buying their way into e-commerce to stay alive in the ever looming shadow of Amazon. In the report, analysts noted the recent $2.1 billion tie-up between Home Shopping Network and rival QVC, along with PetSmart's acquisition of Chewy.com and Walmart's of Jet, as examples of retailers trying to buy their way up. Such acquisitions can save time and other resources that would go to building out digital operations, according to Moody's.
In a statement on Thursday, Singh said Chewy’s teams "will remain focused on Chewy’s founding vision, core values, operating principles and goals. Our business momentum remains strong as we continue to scale while improving our customers’ experience and lowering our costs."