Parklands Veterinary Group has become the first Northern Ireland practice to join UK veterinary practice chain VetPartners.

As well as entering into the market in Northern Ireland, the animal healthcare giant is also preparing to expand across Europe.

VetPartners includes 107 small animal, mixed, equine and farm practices. The York-headquartered firm employs 4,750 people across more than 400 sites.

The future for Parklands

Parklands is one of Northern Ireland's most successful mixed practices, with sites in Cookstown, Dungannon, Coalisland and Aughnacloy, in Co. Tyrone,  and Portglenone in Mid Ulster.

Parklands is unique in having a specialist approach to all species, covering small animals, dairy, suckler, sheep, intensive pig and poultry, as well as offering a specialist breeding service.

The practices' current directors, Jim Slaine, Ian Stewart, John Grant, Andrew Turkington, Craig McAlister, Eamon Donnelly and Philip Abernethy, have a combined 175 years working at the practice.

All seven directors will remain at Parklands and clients will see little change in the day-to-day running of the practice. The five Parklands practices will also retain the Parklands name.

In a statement, they said they believed joining a larger veterinary group would enable the practice to evolve at a much faster rate.

Andrew Turkington said: “The veterinary world is changing fast and by joining VetPartners, Parklands Veterinary Group is in a much stronger position to continue to deliver high quality and competitive services and products throughout Northern and Republic of Ireland.

“By combining resources with other leading practices within the VetPartners group, we aim to bring consistency and excellence within the business.

“Parklands' directors believe that VetPartners is the veterinary group of choice that will provide a secure and supportive home for all its employees and continue to develop excellence for its clients. With the help and resources of VetPartners, Parklands will continue to grow and evolve throughout Ireland.

“We welcome other practices from Northern and Southern Ireland to join us and develop a truly staff and client-focused enterprise through providing excellence in the provision of animal health. VetPartners is a progressive company, which only allows quality practices to join the group.”

VetPartners Expansion

To support its growth, VetPartners last year secured the support of international investment company BC Partners, which has €17 billion of assets under management in private equity and credit.

The chain plans to expand across Europe this year and will introduce itself to the French veterinary profession at France Vet in Paris on June 14 and 15.

VetPartners chief executive Jo Malone said: “We are delighted to welcome Parklands Veterinary Group to VetPartners as they perfectly sum up the kind of quality practices we want to attract.

“This is our first venture into Northern Ireland and we anticipate it won’t be the last.

We now have some of the best veterinary businesses across small animal, equine, mixed and farm, and the next 12 months will see further growth in each of our species groups, both in the UK and Europe.

“After building up a strong base of small animal practices, we are committed to growing our mixed, farm and equine groups, which will bring benefits of scale, local support for our teams and access to a wide range of excellent specialist services.”