Sovereign backs leading specialist veterinary group
Following the close of its £395m fourth fund, Sovereign Capital, the UK private equity Buy & Build specialist, is pleased to announce that it has completed a significant investment in Willows Veterinary Centre and Referral Service (“Willows”), one of the leading specialist veterinary centres for small animals in the UK.
Located in Solihull, West Midlands, Willows provides specialist referral services in: orthopaedics, ophthalmology; neurology; soft tissue surgery; internal medicine and oncology as well as first opinion veterinary services.
It operates out of a 32,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art hospital with facilities including: 6 operating theatres, 14 consulting rooms, a specialist diagnostic imaging department, an isolation ward and an intensive care unit. The hospital is staffed by veterinary surgeons and qualified veterinary nurses 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Willows was founded in 1992 by Malcolm McKee and Peter Renwick, both specialist veterinary surgeons; Peter has specialised in veterinary ophthalmology for the past 22 years, during which time Malcolm has been a leader in the field of small animal orthopaedic surgery. Sovereign has augmented the management team with the appointment of Lynne Hill as CEO and David Mobbs as Chairman. The founders will continue with the business as non-executive directors. A qualified veterinary surgeon, Lynne is highly experienced, having previously been CEO of Langford Veterinary Services at the University of Bristol and Head of Clinical Services at the Royal Veterinary College, University of London as well as being a past President of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. David Mobbs is Group CEO of Nuffield Health and has been since 2003; the Group operates 31 hospitals and 75 fitness & wellbeing centres.
Sovereign will work with Willows’ management team to expand the business to meet the increasing demand for its specialist services.
This acquisition sees Sovereign re-enter the veterinary services market after its successful investment in CVS, which had become the largest group of veterinary surgeries in the UK when listed on AIM in 2007.
Over the past two decades Willows has developed an outstanding reputation among both first opinion veterinary surgeons and animal owners for the quality of its specialist services. We are delighted to be partnering Willows’ experienced management team to help them reach an even larger client base through a carefully structured programme of growth and development for the business.
Neil Cox, Director, Sovereign Capital
Having known Willows for many years I’m excited about the growth strategy that has been developed with Sovereign. It was imperative that any investment partner shared Willows’ founding ethos – the commitment to excellence and continual improvement – and it’s clear that Sovereign shares those values. I very much look forward to leading Willows in this next stage of its evolution.
Lynne Hill, CEO, Willows