Employee-owned veterinary group, Pennard Vets, has joined forces with Priory Lodge Vets, a long-established Tonbridge-based veterinary practice with a 20-strong team.
Founded over 70 years ago, Priory Lodge Vets was formerly owned by two of its veterinary surgeons, Dr. Abby Pye and Dr. Dirk Brink, who will both stay and continue to lead the practice following the acquisition. With an experienced practice manager, head nurse and dedicated team of vets, nurses, nursing assistants and receptionists, Priory Lodge Vets has a loyal client base, caring for more than 4,500 pets.
Abby commented: “We are very excited to join Pennard Vets and become part of the employee-ownership trust (EOT). Based on Pembury Road for the last 44 years, we have evolved and grown over the years, but the one thing that has always remained consistent is our commitment to putting the welfare of our clients’ pets first.
“All the familiar and friendly faces our clients know, and love will remain the same, but the partnership with Pennard Vets will also allow us to expand our range of services to our valued clients.
“The fact that Pennard Vets is the first veterinary practice in Europe to become B-Corp certified is another reason why we wanted to become part of the group. The accreditation shows how committed they are to their people, local community and the environment, and we feel very strongly about these values too.”
Dirk added: “Joining Pennard Vets will allow us to focus more on the treatment of pets and surgery, with less time spent on administration and back-office work. With the same close-knit team, but a bigger support network and wider range of skills available from the team at Pennard Vets, it’s a positive move for us and our clients.
“Another big benefit of joining the group is it allows us to offer continuity of out of hours care, as night shifts have become more difficult to staff. Now we can more easily meet the expectations of pet owners when it comes to 24/7 care. We will therefore be able to carry out more major surgeries and intricate medical procedures here in practice, whilst providing a truly holistic approach to pet care.”
Matthew Flann, from Pennard Vets, said: “We have always had a good relationship with Priory Lodge Vets, and when Covid hit, we started working more closely with them, assisting with out of hours care and we quickly found that our values were closely aligned between the teams.
“Dirk brings additional surgical strengths to our team, which our clients will benefit from, and Abby is a talented medic, with great clinical skills as well as a strong interest in cardiology, that will also be of huge benefit to the group. Priory Lodge Vets becoming a part of our popular EOT structure felt right for everyone involved and we are delighted to welcome their experienced team to the group.
“Over the last two years we have grown from a team of 80 to 130 now that Priory Lodge has joined the Pennard Vets family. We believe the benefits of being an EOT and B Corp certified are huge and we are keen to attract other like-minded practices to our group.”
Pennard Vets was founded in Sevenoaks, Kent in 1895 and has seven practices throughout Kent in Allington, Borough Green, Langley Park, Maidstone, Sevenoaks, Tonbridge and West Malling. In 2021, Pennard Vets became the largest practice in the world to be transferred into employee ownership, within an employee ownership trust (EOT), meaning all employees are now stakeholders in the business.
As part of the acquisition process, Pennard Vets secured a re-financing deal with Shawbrook Bank and was advised by Castle Corporate Finance.
Castle Managing Director, Stuart Stepney, commented: “This was a great opportunity for us to support a highly experienced and ambitious management team that required our expertise to source a long-term debt solution. In quick order, we were able to provide the group with a range of competitive options in a relatively unsettled financial market. Shawbrook proved to be an eager, competitive, and straight-forward lender that was able to quickly understand the complexities of the deal, be commercial in their approach and were keen to deliver on what was promised from the outset. We are delighted to have been part of this successful transaction and wish all involved our huge congratulations.”
Legal advice was provided by Rudlings Solicitors LLP. Priory Lodge Vets were supported by chartered accountants, A4G LLP, and CooperBurnett Solicitors LLP.