VetPartners has strengthened its position in the retail market and \u201ctaken a step towards the digital transformation of the veterinary sector\u201d by acquiring online retailer VetUK.\r\n\r\nVetUK is one of the UK\u2019s biggest online suppliers of pet care products, including toys, accessories, pet food, over-the-counter pet treatments, and veterinary prescription medicines.\r\n\r\nThe company was established in 2005 as a licensed supplier of pet medications in the UK and mainland Europe. During that time, VetUK has handled 3.5million online orders and dispatches 2,500-3,000 orders every day.\r\n\r\nThe company now sells more than 7,500 items, which is increasing weekly, and sales grew by 45% in 2020 as more people ordered online. In recent years, it has invested heavily in its site and associated dispatch software to provide customers with a \u201chigh quality service\u201d.\r\n\r\nVetPartners said that having its own online pharmacy and retail business will enable it to expand its services for clients at its 160 practices, with more than 500 sites across the UK.\r\n\r\nVetPartners CEO Jo Malone said: \u201cBefore the pandemic, pet care was one of the fastest-growing e-commerce categories, and VetUK were helping to lead the way because of the fantastic service they provide pet owners. This has increased further during the pandemic, with customers seeking more convenience.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe sale of essentials like pet foods and medicine has surged during lockdown, partly due to the huge increase in pet ownership, and we want to improve our client experience by enabling them to order products online like so many other sectors. The team at VetUK are passionate about what they do and we look forward to working with them and further developing VetUK.\u201d\r\n\r\nIain Booth, VetUK MD, said: \u201cJoining VetPartners is exciting for VetUK as we will be taking the company to a new level and it will open up a new customer base for both parties.\r\n\r\n\u201cPeople want products at the push of a button and that has accelerated during the pandemic as four to five years\u2019 growth for us was condensed into one year.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe acquisition marks further diversification by VetPartners after the group continued its expansion last month by acquiring Pet Cremation Services, which has a national network of pet crematoria providing a cremation service for the clients of UK veterinary practices.\r\n\r\nVetPartners was advised by Mills & Reeve, BDO and Lambert Smith Hampton. VetUK was advised by Opus Corporate Finance, Berwins Solicitors and Lithgow Perkins.