Bridges-backed The Vet opens for business
Bridges has today announced that The Vet, one of its portfolio companies, has just opened the doors of its first low-cost, high quality walk-in clinic for domestic pets.
The Vet, a new choice of veterinary service that aims to bring the best clinical care at affordable prices to pet-owners, is now trading from a bright and modern clinic in Hengrove, Bristol, offering consultations from as little as £14.99, and healthcare plans starting at £4.99 per month.
With ample parking space, no need for appointments, experienced clinical staff and longer opening hours, The Vet hopes to fill a gap in the market for better, more flexible and fairly-priced veterinary services.
Over the last decade the cost of veterinary services and pet insurance has grown sharply in the UK, meaning many healthcare options are increasingly out of reach for large number of pet-owners. The Vet aims to provide a solution to this problem by offering a genuinely low-cost model without compromising quality of care or service. The company hopes to roll out the model to other UK locations in the near future, with negotiations on additional sites currently underway.
Bridges incubated The Vet from the concept stage, providing funding and working capital through the Bridges Sustainable Growth Fund III (‘Fund III’). The Fund, which focuses on the provision of growth capital to SMEs in sectors where underlying social or environmental need creates the opportunity for both commercial returns and positive impacts, is built upon the success of the first two Bridges Sustainable Growth Funds.
The investment fulfils one of Bridges’ impact themes of investing in underserved areas, with plans to open the majority of any future sites in such areas to drive local regeneration and economic dynamism. In addition, the low cost approach will give access to quality veterinary services to consumers on lower incomes who are increasingly struggling to afford quality healthcare for their pets.
Bridges has a strong track record in backing ‘consumer champion’ companies – businesses that, as The Vet, seek to provide value-for-money for customers from underserved areas. A prime example of such investment is The Gym, a company backed by Bridges in 2008, which pioneered the concept of low-cost gyms in the UK. Today The Gym operates from 36 sites across the UK, mainly located in underserved areas, offering state-of-the-art fitness facilities at very low cost. Bridges sold its majority stake in The Gym last month, a transaction that generated a 50% IRR and 3.7x multiple for investors in Bridges funds. The Vet’s investment has been led by Garret Turley, Partner at Bridges Ventures, who, along with holding a degree in veterinary medicine, and having years of expertise in the sector, has founded, grown and successfully exited his own veterinary group in the past. Garret and his team have played a very active role in the months prior to today’s opening, from securing planning permission for the site, to recruiting the management team.
Garret Turley, Partner at Bridges Ventures, said: “With spiralling insurance costs and the current economic climate, pet-owners are increasingly seeking competent providers of veterinary services at low and transparent price point. The Vet represents a really exciting opportunity to introduce a new concept into a market that has a very established demand but is in need of professionalisation and increased efficiency.“
He added: “We are delighted to back this highly scalable business that offers potential to generate attractive returns to our investors as well as positive social impact by directing investment to underserved areas and enabling consumers to access services that were previously unaffordable.”
Jane Baldwin, Operations Director at The Vet, said, “Research has shown us that pet-owners want to come to the vet when it suits them, they want easy parking and affordable prices. The Vet offers all of that in addition to the best clinical care and we are looking forward to receiving feedback from our first customers. Bridges understands this market and shares our vision to grow the business and we are looking forward to continuing working with them.”
For more information about The Vet, its team and services please visit www.thevet.co.uk.
Notes to Editors
Bridges Ventures (www.bridgesventures.com) Bridges Ventures LLP (“Bridges Ventures”) is a specialist fund manager dedicated to using an impact-driven investment approach to create superior returns for both investors and society at large. Bridges Ventures has raised six funds to date which total almost £300m: Sustainable Growth Funds I, II and III, the Bridges Sustainable Property Fund, the CarePlaces Fund, the Bridges Social Entrepreneurs Fund and the Bridges Social Impact Bond Fund.
The Vet (www.thevet.co.uk) The Vet is a new style of veterinary clinic offering a new choice of veterinary care. Our walk-in clinics mean that pet owners can see their vet at a time to suit their lifestyle. We offer quality, compassionate medical care for pets, with a convenient no-appointment system. And there’s free membership to the Bristol Pet Club for pet owners and their pets to benefit from too. We believe that high quality veterinary care shouldn’t come at a high cost. Our modern, purpose built, bright clinic is staffed by an experienced, dedicated and friendly team and our clients won’t pay the earth for our services. We think it’s only fair to promise to keep our pricing low, and we don’t have hidden extras.
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