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North star guides next generation of vets to a brighter future

A team of veterinary professionals with more than six decades of combined industry experience are embarking on ambitious plans to give the next generation of vets an opportunity to own their own practice

Dr Sean Cleary, Dr Richard Thomas and Chartered Accountant Jane Platt were all partners in The Willows Veterinary Group before selling its 28 small animal, large animal and equine clinics to VetPartners in 2018. The trio have now opened their first practice under the “North Star Vets” banner and will open 10 more practices over the next five years, two of which will open in Spring 2022.

The head vets at each practice will have the opportunity to own an equity stake in their practice without any capital investment. 

The first practice to launch under this innovative partnership model opened last month in Lymm, Cheshire. The North Star Vets team have invested £500,000 in a brand-new practice, known as Burford Lane Vets, with Dr Pieter De Villiers becoming an equity owner. He is supported by a team of nine vets, nurses and receptionists.

Dr Sean Cleary, from North Star Vets, said: “Our vets benefit from our many years of clinical, financial, human resources and procurement experience and have the opportunity to add the finishing touches to a state-of-the-art practice, where no expense has been spared on the fit out and equipment. Everything from finding a property, negotiating the lease, fitting out the practice and health and safety is taken care of. It means our equity partners can enjoy being fantastic vets and reap the financial rewards that brings, and we are here to support the practice and take care of all the administration, procurement, marketing and everything else that goes into running a successful business.

Sean added: “We have benefited from the shift in the industry that saw veterinary groups acquired by large corporate businesses. However, this has inadvertently made it difficult for the next generation of vets to follow the traditional route of buying into a practice as they progress from a junior role to partner, as corporate interest has pushed the values of practices to unaffordable levels for most vets. We want to bridge that gap and give a leg up to vets who want to be masters of their own destinies, without the difficulty of starting from scratch or having to find a huge initial investment.”  

Sean believes that there are a significant number of vets who are looking to launch their own practice. He added: “I’m proud of this sentiment – it’s testament to the entrepreneurial spirit in our profession. However, starting from scratch is fraught with risk, expense, and complexity. Our innovative model helps great vets set up in business as leaders of their own practice and our unique offering is already attracting interest from high-calibre individuals. We would encourage any colleagues out there who feel they would like to join us in our new venture to get in touch via our website.” 

Sean concluded: “The business acumen we have built up over our many years of working in the industry enables us to provide practical support, mentorship and guidance for vets through every step of the process, and that’s something we’re passionate about. The directors will be working across all practices to provide support whenever it’s needed. We are in it for the long-haul, not just the initial set up stage, and we will become a part of every practice that opens.

“We take a real pride in being the solution to fix the broken practice ownership model and North Star Vets will empower ambitious vets to enjoy a better and more successful future, which in turn will translate into the standard of care our clients enjoy.”  

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