DVS Group Limited: How the founders of this thriving specialist veterinary services business are transferring ownership to a new generation of business leaders using a direct share ownership model
Davies Veterinary Specialists (DVS) first introduced elements of employee share ownership some five years ago. However, with some of the founders hoping to partially exit and to reduce their operational time in the business, and a strong belief in retaining the Company’s independence in a market place currently undergoing significant corporate amalgamation, extending that ownership was a natural fit. Postlethwaite worked with the founders and existing management shareholders to develop and implement a broad-based ownership framework that aligns the corporate structure of the Company with its objectives for growth and independence.
DVS is one of the largest and most diverse small animal veterinary referral centres in Europe, employing more than 30 specialist clinicians, 51 veterinary surgeons and 65 nurses, alongside a support team of more than 30. Naturally, it’s a people-based business and the founders have long recognised that sharing the successes of the business with those that help to effect this is a key factor to its success.
The new ownership structure
With bank backing, the founder shareholders of the Company arranged a partial exit from the business, unlocking value that they had built up over their many years growing DVS into the successful enterprise it is today. This partial exit gave existing management shareholders the opportunity to increase their own stake in the business and freed up capital for new management shareholders too, with 8 new employee-owners being created.
But the widening of ownership didn’t stop there. DVS was keen to ensure that all of its employees had a stake in the Company and its success, so has additionally introduced an all-employee share ownership scheme. All employees with three years or more service with the Company will be invited to become shareholders, allowing them to share in the future success of the Company.
Dr Clive Elwood of DVS said “Maintaining our independence is important to us as a business as it ensures that we retain the culture and ethos that provides leading multi-specialist care to our patients and exceptional service to our customers and referring colleagues.”
This democratic approach to running their practice will allow DVS to uphold their core values of integrity, professionalism, respect, compassion and exemplary care whilst maintaining their efficiency and flexible approach. The shareholders of DVS will collectively set the overall strategy and direction of the business and aid the continued commitment to learning, innovation, research and teaching within their specialist fields.
Dr Elwood believes that retaining independent ownership of the practice allows DVS to demonstrate that there is an alternative to the large corporate veterinary groups that are becoming increasingly commonplace; and that alternative is employee ownership.
If you would like to explore how employee ownership or an employee share scheme might be introduced in your company, please contact us for an initial discussion.
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