The Retail Veteran Brings Over Two Decades of Experience to the Position
Nick Russo has been promoted to Chief Development and Stores Officer of Pet Supplies Plus and Wag N’ Wash. Both retail franchises offer pet products, grooming services, and more. With this role, Russo will grow the brands nationally and support franchise owners. He previously served as senior vice president of franchising and stores for Pet Supplies Plus, which acquired Wag N’ Wash in 2022. Russo brings a love of animals and over two decades of retail experience to the role.
He came to Pet Supplies Plus for its potential and ability to scale nationwide. Additionally, he was impressed with the brand’s stability and its system’s strength. Russo looks forward to growing the brands and helping franchisees achieve their goals. In his view, the growth of both brands has been driven by new owners entering the market, existing owners looking for more stability, and independent pet store owners.
“With Pet Supplies Plus and Wag N’ Wash being two of the fastest-growing pet specialty brands in the U.S., we believe that they will have the largest industry footprint in the nation,” Russo said.
Prior to joining Pet Supplies Plus, Russo spent over two decades with Best Buy and Target. He never thought he would get into franchising but appreciates the benefits that come with the model.
Russo believes prospective franchise owners should find an industry they’re passionate about and wake up every day excited about running the business. He urges candidates to review the FDD and talk to franchisees with different levels of experience. “This will give you a balanced point of view of where the company has been and where it is going.”
Russo has seen positive developments throughout his time with Pet Supplies Plus. For example, the pet specialty brand had roughly 210 stores and was focused on corporate store growth when Russo joined over a decade ago. Today, there are almost 700 stores, 65% of which are franchised, he said. Russo is also excited about the evolution of smart marketing, which allows the brand to communicate with targeted content based on specific dog breeds and offer savings opportunities.
Rise of Pet Parents
In Russo’s view, the biggest trend in pet franchising is the humanization of pets. He notes that pet ownership and spending increases with every generation. “Gen X, Millennials and, now Gen Z, make up more than two-thirds of pet owners, surpassing Baby Boomers. This group has taken pet ownership to a whole new level. They become pet parents years before having children and are spending their higher disposable income on premium foods, supplements, and services.” During the Covid-19 pandemic, 11 million more pets were added to households, which will drive the pet industry’s growth, Russo added.
Russo’s family of pets goes beyond dogs, which include a French Mastiff named Brooklyn; Stella, a Chocolate Lab; a Mixed Breed named Wade; and Emme, a Yorkie. Russo also has seven miniature donkeys, four dwarf goats and a miniature pig.