Organic Growth Masterclass: VetPartners, backed by BC Partners
Professionalising the business, creating a strong European presence and digitalising the platform have really helped to drive organic growth at veterinary business VetPartners, says Jean-Baptiste Wautier, partner at BC Partners.
VetPartners was a very young business when BC Partners acquired it in November 2018. The CEO and founder is a vet by background, and she could see the benefits of consolidating vet practices together, and creating a UK-based platform to support them.
At the time of BC Partners’ investment, the business was co-controlled between the founders, August Equity, and Ares. August sold up, and with the transaction, BC Partners now serves as a majority owner, and the other entities are all significant minority investors.
Jean-Baptiste Wautier, partner at BC Partners says: “The business was fast-growing, but we needed to further professionalise the platform, the management team, and the processes around the finance function.
At the senior level, we needed to invest in people. We created a COO position and put in the role someone who was already in the company, just in a different position. We then hired a head of IT, and beefed up their team, as well as a CFO, CMO, CPO and CDO. VetPartners also had an insurance plan, but it was immature when we first backed the business.”
Jean-Baptiste Wautier says: “There was some consolidation in the UK, however, there was a need to expand the platform into Europe, to have a presence in the bigger geographies. To be able to enter these markets, we hired a head of Italy, France and Switzerland.
The European expansion has gone a lot faster than we’d initially planned for. We now have a presence in Italy, in France, Germany, Switzerland, and soon that may also expand to Spain. We have hired a head of those countries we’re actively trying to secure acquisitions in.
The reason for this is that the market has grown fast, and there’s a trend towards people looking more and more at what their pets eat, how they exercise, in a way you would look after your own child. There has also been a jump in pet population during the pandemic.”
DIGITALISE THE PLATFORM
Jean-Baptiste Wautier says: “There’s a big digital initiative that we’ve been pushing, and there’s a lot of things that can be done digitally by the pet owners, from booking appointments, to ordering medications, to vets being able to share best practices.
We defined a strategy that was a two-step approach. Firstly, we wanted to have a more seamless booking tool. We needed to make sure we had accurate data on customers and their pets, in terms of previous pathology, age, etc. As a starting point for that, we put in place a unified management system to better monitor and collect that data.
Secondly, it was about building infrastructure. We invested in servers and cloud capabilities to do this.”