Investigation into CVS acquisition of The Vet
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has opened an investigation into CVS Group’s purchase of Quality Pet Care, which trades as The Vet, in December last year. Both firms are providers of veterinary services, with CVS Group owning 467 practices throughout the in the UK (including Northern Ireland), while The Vet operates eight practices across England.
Recent reports indicate that there are 17 million pet-owning homes across the UK, with consumer expenditure on vets and other services for pets in the UK estimated to be around £4 billion between July 2020 and June 2021.
In recent years, the ownership of vets’ practices across the UK has changed, with many practices being acquired by a small number of corporate groups, such as CVS.
While independent veterinary practices accounted for 89% of the UK industry in 2013, this share had fallen to less than half (45%) by 2021, primarily as a result of independent practices being bought by corporate groups.
Following its Phase 1 investigation into CVS’s acquisition of The Vet, the CMA has found that the merger raises competition concerns in five local areas – Bristol, Nottingham, Portsmouth, Southampton and Warrington.
The CMA’s investigation found that the combined businesses would account for a significant proportion of veterinary services in each of these areas.
Colin Raftery, Senior Director of Mergers, at the CMA, said: “Pets are much-loved members of millions of households across the UK and, when veterinary care is needed, it’s important that pet owners have access to a good service at the right price.
“The CMA has received a number of complaints in recent years about higher prices or lower quality services as a result of too many vets’ practices in the same area being under the control of a single company.
“This deal could lead to customers facing more limited treatment choices for their pets or paying over the odds for services in these areas. Should CVS fail to address our concerns we will refer the deal for an in-depth investigation.”