*Pet Supplies Retailers Bag Dot-Com Leftovers

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Brick-and-mortar pet supplies retailers yesterday scrambled to pick up the scraps left over from their recently defunct Internet-only counterparts.


While PETCO Animal Supplies Inc. decided to acquire the assets of e-commerce partner Petopia.com, rival PETsMART Inc. yesterday bought Pets.com's name. Terms of both deals were not disclosed.


The announcements follow the early-November decision by PETsMART to gain majority control of PETsMART.com, a joint venture with outside investors and Internet incubator idealab.


PETsMART, the nation's No. 1 offline retailer of pet supplies, paid $20 million in cash and threw in its $10 million catalog business to form a new direct marketing subsidiary. This deal now takes the Phoenix retailer's stake in PETsMART.com from 48.2 percent to 81 percent.


This is the same strategy followed by PETCO, San Diego, for Petopia.com, a site launched in July 1999.


"Our acquisition of Petopia assets expands on PETCO's existing capabilities to serve its Internet customers," Brian Devine, PETCO chairman and president/CEO, said in a statement. "There has already been a significant shakeout among the pet industry e-commerce players and we are well positioned to take advantage of the opportunity."


A specialty retailer of premium pet food, PETCO has 530 stores in 41 states and the District of Columbia.


For PETsMART.com, the Pets.com name buy is an attempt to ride on the popularity of the former online category leader in pet supplies. Visitors to the site, at www.pets.com, are now taken to www.PETsMART.com once past the home page. First-time visitors to this page are offered a $10 discount off a $25 purchase.


PETsMART also may acquire other Pets.com-owned names such as hamster.com and petstore.com, though which name will change hands is still unknown.


Pets.com's sock puppet mascot is still in the market.
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