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Absolute Pets’ Journey to Success through a Private Equity Partnership

In the realm of business, partnerships are everything. Especially when it comes to shaping success stories. Private equity partnerships have the power to create growth, unlock value, and create a lasting impact, built on a foundation of trust. One such example is Absolute Pets, South Africa’s largest specialist pet food and product retailer. Through their partnership with Sanlam Investments Private Equity, Absolute Pets has not only transformed into a thriving business but has also touched more lives, contributing to economic growth and employment across the nation.

The power of trust and a trusted partner

Trust is the cornerstone of any successful relationship, and Absolute Pets’ story is no exception. The partnership between Absolute Pets and Sanlam Investments Private Equity exemplifies the transformative impact that trust can have. Sanlam Investments, with its 20-year track record in South African private equity, recognised the potential of the Absolute Pets business, and shared their vision for growth. They became the solid business partner Absolute Pets needed to achieve their expansionary goals and reach their full potential.

A small beginning

Absolute Pets’ journey began as a small business with only eight stores back in 2013. However, with their unwavering commitment to be the “Uncompromising champion of pets,” they caught the attention of Stephen Warner, who became involved in the company. Warner’s vision, coupled with the support of the Private Equity team at Sanlam Investments, set Absolute Pets on a path to remarkable growth.

Private equity becomes man’s best friend

Private equity partnerships are a key component of the business landscape, offering unique opportunities for growth, innovation and impact. Says Paul Moeketsi, Managing Partner for Sanlam Investments Private Equity, “With the high unemployment rate in SA, we believe that the only way to achieve socio-economic stability in South Africa is to focus on both job preservation and job creation. Consequently, we focus on investments that not only give investors attractive financial returns, but also aim to achieve a positive and measurable socio-economic or environmental impact in South Africa.”

“How private equity typically works is we buy an equity stake in a business, but our fund aims to do much more than just provide working capital to save or create jobs; private equity has a longer investment term than a typical debt instrument, and so it allows active participation in the operational running of the business to support the growth strategy”.

In the case of Absolute Pets, their partnership with Sanlam Investments Private Equity has played a pivotal role in their journey to success. Both Absolute Pets and Sanlam’s Private Equity team recognised the potential for growth, a shared common mission, and the potential to deliver on mutually agreed impact and transformation objectives.

Absolute Pets is undoubtedly a success story

Since the initial investment by Sanlam Investments Private Equity in April 2021, Absolute Pets has witnessed tremendous growth. With the support and guidance of their partners, the business expanded its footprint, opening over 50 new stores — surpassing the original target of 30 stores. This expansion not only benefited Absolute Pets but also had a further reaching ripple effect. The company created 165 new jobs, with a focus on providing opportunities for previously disadvantaged groups. Additionally, existing employees were upskilled and promoted, honouring their commitment to growing from within. Absolute Pets were also able to trade successfully through the Covid-19 lockdowns with no job losses or retrenchments, which is a success story in itself.

Impacting both lives and communities

Absolute Pets’ success extends far beyond their business achievements. By taking care of our beloved companions as ‘the unprecedented champion of pets’, they contribute to the well-being of countless breeds. Similarly, Sanlam Investments Private Equity supports South African businesses, driving economic growth and employment opportunities. Absolute Pets has grown exponentially, touching more people, unlocking greater value, and making a lasting impact in South Africa. The collaboration between the two is a prime example of the power of private equity partnerships in fostering positive change at both a local and national level. This success story reinforces the importance of trust and dedicated teamwork in achieving remarkable outcomes.

As we witness the story of Absolute Pets unfold, it serves as an inspiring example of how the right partnerships can shape the future and create better, for all. Says Head of Private Equity, John Seymour: “It was tremendously rewarding to be an active part of growing a business that embraces equality and gender diversity. That was a huge highlight for me.”

Watch our video featuring John Seymour, Head of Private Equity and Paul Moeketsi, Managing Partner: Private Equity at Sanlam Investments.


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