There’s really nothing unusual about a successful online retailer going public via an initial public offering of stock. In the case of Chewy.com, the route has been rather circuitous. An audacious startup founded in 2011, Chewy was acquired by PetSmart for $3.35 billion in 2017 — a record amount for an ecommerce acquisition at the time. Chewy sells a wide array of pet products, including pet prescriptions from a pharmacy that was launched last year. Though the company has yet to make a profit, Chewy has made a name for itself by competing with the likes of Amazon.com by offering free shipping on heavy bags of pet food. Through its autoship subscription service, Chewy can make those deliveries at regular intervals.
Chewy is majority-owned by PetSmart, but there has been little integration of the two businesses over the past two years of common ownership. PetSmart products haven’t shown up on Chewy’s website, and there is little evidence of Chewy in the PetSmart stores. Sometimes the two have been found to charge different prices for the same item. Chewy is still actively working to expand its customer base, having spent $137.2 million on television advertising last year, up 38 percent from the previous year, according to figuring from television rating service Nielsen.
The timing, number of shares and pricing of Chewy’s IPO had not been announced by press time. In its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Chewy said its shares would trade under the ticker symbol CHWY. The company did not disclose on which exchange those shares would be traded. Noting that money raised in the IPO would be used for working capital and general corporate purposes, Chewy said it plans to have two classes of shares, Class A, which would be sold to the public, and Class B, which would retain supervoting rights.