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Bridges Seals Third Exit This Summer With Sale Of The Vet To CVS Group

12 months ago

22nd August, 2021 09h21

Bridges Fund Management

Bridges Fund Management (“Bridges”), the specialist sustainable and impact investor, has completed the sale of The Vet, a UK-based affordable veterinary services provider, to CVS Group, one of the UK's leading providers of integrated veterinary services.

Bridges created The Vet in 2013 (in partnership with founder/ CPO Jane Baldwin), recognising that while the number of pet owners was growing steadily, many were finding it hard to access quality veterinary services. The goal was to create a differentiated proposition in the sector by offering accessible care in a bespoke, high-quality clinical environment, particularly within lower-income areas.

Today, The Vet operates eight large clinics across the UK, offering a comprehensive range of leading pet health services at competitive prices. In the last three years, the proportion of its customers who had never previously been to a vet averaged over 40%. The business has continually innovated, and during the pandemic, was one of the first veterinary groups to offer an app-based telehealth service. This gave customers access to care through the pandemic, while also being two-thirds cheaper than a face-to-face consultation.

Pet ownership has risen sharply since the start of the pandemic, with more than 3.2m households in the UK acquiring new pets. This underpins the strong fundamentals of the veterinary services market, which is expected to grow at almost 10% in the next year[1].

The sale of The Vet represents the third exit in as many months for Bridges’ Sustainable Growth Funds, following on from the sale of World of Books to Livingbridge in June, and the sale of Wholebake to Elysian Capital in July. Collectively the three businesses have created about £170m of enterprise value during Bridges’ period of ownership.

Chris Jessop, Chairman at The Vet, said:

“Since 2013, The Vet has established itself as one of the most exciting veterinary platforms in the UK. Its differentiated services delivered from state-of-the-art centres across the UK, coupled with industry-leading digital engagement capabilities, has resulted in an exceptionally strong commercial performance over recent years. Now as part of the CVS Group, the business will be able to keep up its strong momentum and make an even wider range of services available to pet owners. The Vet leadership team is very grateful to Bridges, who have been an outstanding partner for the business. Their highly engaged and supportive approach, coupled with their extensive experience of roll-out strategies, has been instrumental in helping us to drive strong organic growth. They have throughout shared our clear commitment to delivering accessible high-quality veterinary care. As Chair, I cannot speak more highly of them and the way we have worked together.”

Daniel Knight, Investment Director at Bridges, said:

“We’re delighted that The Vet is taking this significant step on its growth journey. Since we created the business in 2013, the business has continued to differentiate in the market, providing a template for the delivery of more accessible high-quality veterinary services. Pet ownership has clear health and wellbeing benefits, which helps to explain why so many people have been buying pets in the last 18 months. Given the likely increase in demand this will drive for The Vet’s services, we’re confident the business will continue to go from strength to strength in the coming years.”

James Cahill, Group Business Development Director at CVS Group, said:

“We’re confident that CVS will be an excellent new home for The Vet. Our integrated model, which includes specialist referrals, and our shared ethos for excellence in care will bring benefits to customers and their animals, particularly through the breadth of services available. We are also pleased to be providing further opportunities for our new colleagues through the specialist training and career pathways on offer at CVS. We are delighted to welcome our new team members as we continue our focus on delivering the best possible care to animals.”