Vets4Pets steps on it

GUERNSEY-based chain Vets4Pets has dramatic expansion plans for the next 12 months.

GUERNSEY-based chain Vets4Pets has dramatic expansion plans for the next 12 months. It intends to open at least another eight practices nationwide, in addition to the 30 already managed from the island.

A further eight to 10 centres will follow for each of the next two years and thereafter between 15 and 20 annually after that. It hires four people locally for every five new practices and is confident all its staff can be sourced in Guernsey.

Its business model entails setting up joint venture partnerships with experienced veterinary surgeons who may otherwise be unable to operate alone. From the Guernsey office, it manages each practice's finances, marketing, administration and legal requirements.

Managing director David Watson started the business with a team of three from his basement in Doyle Road in 2001.

Commercial director Jeremy Camm, who has been with him from the outset, said the company had spent the last four years fine-tuning the business model. 'We did not want to rush our expansion plans without having confidence in the model. But now it is tried and tested, we have our foot on the accelerator.'

Three practices have already been opened this year, in Southampton, Redditch and Preston. One in Halesowen, near Birmingham, will open next month.

In August 2000 the company moved into its new headquarters behind the Marks & Spencer food hall in St Martin's. The Guernsey practice occupies a roadside building on the same site.

Head of finance Amanda Pratt said there was enough room to accommodate expansion plans for the next two years. After that, the company will either need to extend the premises or look elsewhere.

She has been with the company since 2004 and said it had an excellent record of developing its staff.

'I joined as account manager and was given exceptional support with my career development. I am a case in point of the opportunities available.'

The company put her through the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants qualification.

'We very much have a culture of growing our own and are extremely dedicated to employee development.'

Another prime example is Faye Spencer, who joined the company as an administrative assistant four years ago and has progressed to finance manager. Mr Camm said: 'When she joined, she showed an interest in finance so we put her through some related training.'

She became a finance assistant and then a management assistant before taking up her current role last year. Ms Spencer recently expressed a desire to develop her IT skills and has started an SQO qualification.

'Faye is one of our success stories and it is her type of enthusiasm that will continue to grow the business,' said Mr Camm.