Dentists considering selling their dental practice now have more options than ever. One possibility that is continuously growing is either selling or partnering with a dental group.
In July 2005, the Dentists Act 1984 was amended, creating the opportunity for dental corporates to become a permanent part of the UK’s dental landscape. Since the amendment act passed, membership of the Association of Dental Groups has risen to 19. In this article we look at a range of those members and some of their key benefits to give you an up to date feel of what is happening.
At Pluto our Directors have worked closely with some of the biggest dental groups nationwide. If you are a practice owner, we act as your dental business advisors to inform you of all the options on the table. You will have a range of support from our senior team, including that of Pluto’s Clinical Advisor and practicing dentist, Dr. Pieter Claassen, who has worked both with a corporate and independently. Nick Rolph is our CEO and holds impressive experience in M&A and Buy & Build projects and Max Bazzucchini, our Director of Sales, is one of the most experienced brokers in the UK. One of our clients recently paid us a truly generous compliment, they used the analogy of a sailor (them, the dentist) in their ship (their practice) facing stormy and unpredictable seas, trying to make it back to the harbour. They compared us to a lighthouse, guiding them home safely.
We had conversations with some of the top established and emerging dental groups and their leading figures to give a snap shot of what is now available.
"Rodericks Dental Limited is a well-established dental group with over 80 dental practices in both England and Wales. Our approach to dental care differs from other large dental corporates by placing patient care at the heart of our everything we do" explained Rebecca Bird, from the Acquisitions & Legal Department at Rodericks Dental. Rebecca continued – "every practice we acquire is brought into our group to continue to grow, and our message is simple; we take care of the day to day so that you can take care of your patients. Honouring and building upon your legacy are essential ingredients for our future success, so we want you to be involved in the evolution of your practice. Rodericks training ethos means we strive to offer the best training and personal development for each of our team members, offering fantastic opportunities for practices to continue to grow and for talent to be nurtured".
“At Portman our ethos is simple and strong - we focus on treating others as we would want to be treated ourselves” explained Gary Chapman from Portman. Gary continued - “with over 100 practices, we are the largest privately focused dental group in the UK. However, our journey over the past 10 years has not been about growing to a predetermined scale. It’s about providing our patients with excellent customer care and empowering our clinicians to deliver exceptional clinical quality. We continue to welcome like-minded practices, clinicians and colleagues to the Portman family”.
“We’re owned by a long-term investor who’s in it for the long term, not just a private equity player who’ll want to sell in the next 4-5 years. This means we make sound decisions and sustainable investments into our clinics and people to protect patient care for the long term”, explained Colosseum’s CEO, Philip Buergin. Philip continued – “We have the infrastructure in place to take care of the administrative burden, currently undergoing a huge refurbishment programme of almost £10m. We keep our practices locally branded to stay embedded in our communities, but as the leading pan-European chain we want our colleagues to enjoy the benefits this brings, such as rotational programmes to work abroad or best practice sharing events at our Colosseum Academy”.
“Riverdale Healthcare is a new, dentistry investment group with an industry-leading management team led by the group CEO, Mark Seekings and backed by a leading healthcare investment fund” explained Chris Aylward, Chief Investment Officer at Riverdale Healthcare. Chris continued - “the team will be selectively investing in ambitious dental practices that share the same ethos and core values of Riverdale Healthcare to provide high quality, ethical dentistry. Our support will provide the infrastructure to facilitate growth in our investments by deploying strategic capital and commercial expertise”.
“Bupa Dental Care has over 470 practices across the UK and Ireland. We’re committed to providing the highest standards of care for patients, working with over 2,000 dentists and 5,000 practice staff to make this happen. In turn, we provide practices with all the support they need to develop, including clinical support and access to the latest digital technologies. We also manage the day-to-day running of the practices, allowing our dentists to focus on excellent clinical care,” explained Ruth Chesmore, Director of M&A, Integration and NHS Commissioning at Bupa. Ruth continued “dentistry is a long-term commitment for Bupa, with no shareholders; we reinvest our profits into providing more and better health and dental care for our customers and people. While we’re looking to grow, it’s really important for us that practices share our commitment to patients.”
“Dentalcare operates high quality NHS and private dental practices across England, in a unique way. The organisation is run by practising dentists, with vast experience in NHS and private dentistry” commented Ranjit Singh Dharwar, CEO of Dentalcare Group. Ranjit further explains “we invest in the latest training, equipment, corporate governance and staff support systems. This helps us attract exceptional dentists, who provide Dentalcare patients with the very best treatment. Dentalcare Group is continuing to expand, through logical acquisition of practices sharing the same ethos. We provide inhouse training and development for our dentists. We take away all the administrative burden to allow our clinical teams to focus on what they do best – looking after the patients”.
“MyDentist are Europe's largest dental care provider. With a 600+ network of practices, we are committed to providing the latest treatments. Over 5 million people in the UK trust us with their dental care”, commented Director of Communications, Tom Muir. “We speak to many practice owners and their reasons for selling vary, but generally boil down to a few common themes, which we’re sure you will relate to: a better work/life balance, a desire to be released from the burdens of compliance and admin, career progression, choice and further development and finally retirement or needing to release equity. The benefits of selling to MyDentist is that you are able to fulfil your own individual aims and if you wish continue earning as well if you stay on as an associate,” added the Group Clinical Director, Dr Julian Perry.
“With Dentex you enjoy the support that comes from being part of a national group of dentists, whilst retaining your clinical independence and preserving what makes your practice unique. Buy-in, don’t sell out. Their principals retain equity as partners in the group, so share in the wealth as the group grows, providing the time, support and finance so you can get what you want from dentistry.” explained Dentex’s Marketing Director, Eloise Ford. CEO Barry Lanesman added “with Dentex, everyone is part of the business – and so everyone benefits from its success. This is part of the reason we have grown so quickly, 50 practices in just over two years. Partners will be working alongside some prominent names, including Rahul Doshi, Mervyn Druian, Mitesh Badiani, David Heath, Tidu Mankoo, Jatin Desai, Noushin Attari and Mahmoud Pourghadiri”.
There are many other interesting dental groups and regional operators in the UK such as Obex Dental, Perfect Smile, Alliance, Damira Dental Studios, Centre for Dentistry, Antwerp Dental Group, Dentistry for You, Genix Healthcare, Smile Dental Care, Gensmile, Enamel and Dental Partners. Many are actively looking to buying the right practices to fit their selection criteria and grow their existing portfolio.
The UK dental market is highly fragmented with c.15% of practices in the UK owned by corporate dental bodies, c.20% by multiple sites owners (2-19) and the rest, c.65% of the market, owned by independents. Despite recent consolidation in the market, the sector remains ripe for further consolidation activity and we expect dental groups to increase their share to more than 20% of the market in the next 3-5 years, with the mid-market share to increase to over 35%. Our Director Max Bazzucchini concludes, “there is great confidence in the market and a strong activity from investors and lenders. With a potential 7-8% year-on-year growth in the dental sector, interest is continuously spreading. We are working with dental groups looking to expand but also groups looking to divest practices from their existing portfolio to establish a clearer brand identity. So, whether you are looking to sell or grow, Pluto Partners are here to share your exciting journey”.