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Pets and vets specialist Greencross is benefiting from a surge in sales as pet owners lavish increasing sums on their animals and spread their spending across new services and online channels.

Greencross lifted first-half profit by 8.9 per cent to $23.2 million after strong performances from its shops, in-store veterinary clinics and emergency hospitals, with earnings bolstered by a jump in digital revenue.

Australian online sales soared by 92 per cent to $9 million, accounting for 3.4 per cent of Australian retail sales.

Greencross chief executive Martin Nicholas said the company was benefiting from the rise of “cross-shoppers” who use online and bricks-and-mortar stores.

More than 80 per cent of online customers also visited a retail store or clinic, Greencross said.

The veterinary care and pet supplies provider says while a customer making an average five transactions a year in physical stores spends $265, a customer who makes 25 transactions across retail stores, the vet, grooming facilities and online spends on average $1,874 per annum.

Greencross, which operates the Petbarn and City Farmers retail outlets in Australia, says the number of its customers who shop at more than one platform has risen by 34 per cent to more than 212,000 customers over the past year.

“These cross-shoppers now represent 13 per cent of Greencross’s active customer base and account for 28 per cent of total revenue and 32 per cent of gross margin,” Greencross said on Tuesday.

“Excellent trading over the Christmas period , higher premium food sales and growth in online were all key contributors to a good retail results,” Mr Nicholas said.

Australian retail sales were up by six per cent to $263 million.

Greencross’s Australian veterinary operations lifted revenue by 14 per cent to $119 million as the company increased the number of veterinary clinics located within retail stores and expanded the number of specialist and emergency hospitals.

Shares in Greencross were 19 cents, or 3.1 per cent, lower at $5.96 at 1536 AEDT.

MORE “CROSS SHOPPERS” HELP BOOST GREENCROSS FIRST HALF.

* First-half profit up 8.9pct to $23.2m

* Revenue up 8.8pct to $433.3m

* Interim dividend up 0.5 cents to 10 cents, fully franked