British vet group VetPartners makes first move into Northern Ireland with acquisition of Parklands

The Parklands Veterinary Group has been acquired by VetPartners in York
Gary McDonald Business Editor

PRIVATE equity-backed British veterinary group VetPartners has acquired a first Northern Ireland-based operation as part of its wider ambition to expand across Europe.

The York-headquartered company has taken over the running of the Parklands Veterinary Group, which has sites in Cookstown, Dungannon, Coalisland, Aughnacloy and Portglenone.

Parklands, which is staffed by more than 30 vets, joins a partnership which has 107 small animal, mixed, equine and farm practices, with 4,750 employees working in more than 400 sites.

All seven of the Parklands directors, who have a combined 175 years working at the practice, will remain with VetPartners, and local clients will see little change in the day-to-day running of the practice.

The seven are Jim Slaine, Ian Stewart, John Grant, Andrew Turkington, Craig McAlister, Eamon Donnelly and Philip Abernethy.

Mr Turkington said: "The veterinary world is changing fast, and by joining VetPartners, we are in a much stronger position to continue to deliver high quality and competitive services and products throughout Ireland.

"By combining resources with other leading practices within the VetPartners group, we aim to bring consistency and excellence within the business."

He added: “Parklands directors believe VetPartners is the veterinary group of choice that will provide a secure and supportive home for all its employees and continue to develop excellence for its clients. With its help and resources, Parklands will continue to grow and evolve throughout Ireland.

Parklands is unique in having a specialist approach to all species, covering small animals, dairy, suckler, sheep, intensive pig and poultry and specialist breeding service.

To support its growth and its first northern acquisition, VetPartners last year secured the support of leading international investment company BC Partners, which has €17 billion of assets under management in private equity and credit across the globe.

The company is aiming to expand across Europe this year and will introduce itself to the French veterinary profession when a delegation, including chief executive Jo Malone, attends France Vet at Porte De Versailles exhibition centre in Paris later this month.

Malone said: “This is our first venture into Northern Ireland but we anticipate it won't be the last.

“We now have some of the best veterinary businesses across small animal, equine, mixed and farm, and the next 12 months will see further growth in each of our species groups, both in the UK and Europe.

“After building up a strong base of small animal practices, we are committed to growing our mixed, farm and equine groups, which will bring benefits of scale, local support for our teams and access to a wide range of excellent specialist services.”

Pinsent Masons and David Lyttle & Co advised Parklands Veterinary Group. VetPartners was advised by Mills & Reeve and Hazlewoods.

Michael Hamill, senior associate at Pinsent Masons, said: "We have seen considerable consolidation in the UK veterinary sector in recent years, and this deal evidences the potential for a similar trend in Northern Ireland.

"Over the years, the Parklands team has developed the business into one of the largest mixed veterinary practices in Ireland and I believe that with VetPartners' support, the business will go from strength to strength."

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