Pennard Vets has won the Employee Ownership Association's (EOA) Rising Star award, which recognises the success of an organisation within three years of employee ownership

The judges praised the practice group for leveraging employee ownership (EO) to drive growth and staff satisfaction, protect independence, and champion EO in the veterinary sector.

Pennard Vets, which has eight practices in Kent, says its driving ambition when it took the decision to transfer the business into an employee ownership trust and make its 150-strong team business owners, was to protect its independence and core values.

Pennard Vets has also been eager to spread the word about employee ownership to other veterinary practices.

Matthew Flann, a director from Pennard Vets, said: “Winning this award is a huge coup for our entire industry, who have been searching for ways to secure the future of their independent practices.

"Set against a backdrop of increasing corporatisation of UK veterinary practices, we chose to protect our heritage by becoming an EOT.

“It hasn't been easy, but it has been massively rewarding and our team have passionately bought into their new status as owners, and the results can be seen throughout the practice – from team-led initiatives to the impact on the range of procedures we can now offer to our patients.

"It’s genuinely been transformational and since 2021 we’ve doubled turnover and grown our team by 30%.

"We’ve also welcomed Abbotsley Veterinary Group and Priory Lodge into the group with the two local Kent practices citing our EOT status as a motivating factor for their moves.

“Crucially our EOT structure provided the launchpad to becoming the first veterinary practice in Europe to achieve B-Corp status in 2022, which we see as another step towards becoming the very best practice possible, using input and ideas from our team to provide a better service, give back to our community and protect the environment.

“We’re also determined to make the journey less arduous for other veterinary practices to follow our lead and we regularly hear from practice owners who are exploring becoming EO.

"We’ve established the British Veterinary Employee Owned Association to help guide other practices through the journey of becoming an EOT by networking, attending events and presenting webinars.

"This year we have supported thriving practices to become EO in all parts of the UK, including Arrowfield Vets in Herefordshire, Animal Tails Veterinary Practice in Stirling, Shetland Vets and Cornerstone Veterinary Clinic in Belfast.

“We believe intrinsically in the value of supporting and promoting our team as the best way to grow our business and provide the best possible service to our clients and patients, and that same approach will pay dividends for other veterinary practices. Because of this we fully intend to continue to campaign for the benefits of EO.”

James de le Vingne, CEO of the EOA, said: “Congratulation to Pennard Vets on winning this award.

"The awards recognise businesses and individuals that are delivering great employee ownership. Collectively, great employee owned businesses deliver significant uplift in productivity and performance, outperforming their non-EO counterparts across multiple impacts for employees, society, the environment and the economy.”

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