Government & Legislation

VetPartners’ purchase of Goddard raises competition concerns

The CMA is concerned that pet owners could face a ‘worse’ quality of service, including more limited treatment options, or having to pay higher prices.

VetPartners’ completed purchase of Goddard Holdco Limited in March 2022 has been opened for an “in-depth” investigation after the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) found that the deal raises “competition concerns.”

The CMA said it has received “a number” of complaints in recent years about higher prices or lower quality services as a result of multiple vets’ practices in the same local area being owned by a single company.

VetPartners, like most of these corporate groups, not only owns and operates local vet practices, but also has “broader” activities within the veterinary sector, owning other businesses including diagnostic laboratories, locum agencies, and crematoria.

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Following its Phase one investigation into VetPartners’ acquisition of Goddard, the CMA has found that the merger raises competition concerns in 11 local areas across Greater London.

The CMA’s investigation found that the combined businesses would account for a “significant” proportion of veterinary services in each of these areas.

While veterinary practices owned by VetPartners and Goddard currently compete for customers at each of these locations, the CMA is concerned that the combined businesses would not face sufficient competition after the merger. This could lead to pet owners facing a “worse” quality of service, including more limited treatment options, or having to pay higher prices.

Colin Raftery, senior director of mergers, at the CMA, said: “Close to 60% of UK households own a pet and, when veterinary care is needed, the cost of care can have a significant impact on already-stretched household budgets.

“Like CVS’s recent acquisition of The Vet, VetPartners’ acquisition of Goddard would result in too many vets’ practices in the same area being under the control of a single company, raising the risk of higher prices or lower quality services.”

He added: “Unless our concerns are addressed, we will refer this deal”

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