Appetite from independent buyers in the Scottish dental market

05 April, 2023 / indepth
 Joel Mannix, Associate Director – Dental, Christie & Co  

2022 was a record year for the independent buyer, with the majority of deals completing to first-time buyers and small groups. We’re seeing this appetite continue well into 2023, with these buyers eager to acquire quality dental practices across the length and breadth of the country.

In Scotland specifically, over 70% of our practices were sold to independents last year, as they recognised the opportunities in the market and wanted to capitalise on the needs-driven, robust nature of the sector. This is perhaps an opportune moment in the market for independents to ‘steal a march’ on corporate operators, with many pausing aggressive acquisition programmes through recent years to focus on consolidation and organic growth.

A great example of this appetite was with the sale of The Village Dental Surgery in Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire – a three-surgery mixed dental practice with over 10,500 registered patients.

This impressive practice launched to market in 2022 and received a great deal of attention from a range of prospective buyers, receiving over 20 enquiries and a total of 11 offers. The winning bid came from first time buyer and Associate at the practice, Jane O’Toole, who, despite her offer not being the highest in value, won the vendors over due to her commitment to the practice and their shared vision.

This goes to show that, especially in the current market, it’s important not to assume that only corporate buyers can present a premium offer. By running a competitive process, not only can we improve upon offers that were made directly, but there may also be an independent buyer who is able to offer far more flexibility.

What and where are they buying?

The central belt is where we’re seeing most of the activity happen at the moment. Buyers are seeking quality practices with room for improvement and, whilst not a requirement for all buyers, mixed income practices are the most sought-after. Banks are keen to lend to independent buyers, and sellers are particularly inclined to sell to buyers that share their same ethos.

Why sell to an independent?

For those considering selling to an independent buyer over a corporate group, the process can be much easier as the terms are cleaner, and there are no tie-ins. This can also make the deal more straight-forward as the due diligence process is often less invasive with an independent buyer. While competition is always key, selling to an independent can be a really personal experience as you’d likely be dealing with just one person who will be close to the business itself.

Making the decision to sell your dental practice is a big step, and it’s important to have the right team behind you. At Christie & Co, our team of dental experts value the importance of working with our clients’ best interests in mind, and ensuring they get the best offer for their each of their clients.

To find out more about the Scottish dental market, or for a confidential chat about your business options, contact Joel Mannix: / +44 7764 241 691

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