Tim Harrison, who with his father Craig built White Cross Vets into a 20-practice group across the North East, North West, Yorkshire and the Midlands, has announced plans to launch a new independent practice group. 

Harrison Family Vets opened its first practice earlier this month in Woodley, Reading, in a £350,000 investment that created eight jobs.

The plan is for the next practice to open later this summer in the Midlands, before the group expands north towards the end of the year. The group is now searching for further properties across the north and south of England, with plans to open 75 practices by the end of the decade.

Tim joined his dad's practice in 1995 as General Manager. He later co-founded Vets4Pets in 2001 before joining Mars Inc. to head the overseas growth of Banfield, then the world’s largest veterinary practice. He then rejoined the family business to grow it further, until it was acquired by IVC Evidensia in 2018.

Alongside Tim is operations director, Kristie Faulkner who also worked at White Cross Vets until it was acquired by IVC, whereupon she became regional operations manager, overseeing more than 200 of the IVC's practices across the South East of England.

Between 2012 and 2018, White Cross Vets was repeatedly named as one of the UK’s best employers and a truly extraordinary place to work. The company secured a place in the prestigious ‘Top 100 Sunday Times Best Small Companies to Work For’ league table for seven consecutive years, as well as being the inaugural SPVS Wellbeing Award Winners.  

Tim said: “The whole ethos at Harrison Family Vets is about fostering a culture within our team that sets us apart and differentiates our practice from all others. Every individual’s strengths and personality traits will contribute to what we do, in a family-orientated environment. Our culture is about looking after people. Focus on attracting the very best people and then look after them as much as possible. A successful practice with a fabulous reputation amongst the profession and amongst clients is what automatically follows.

“Our state-of-the-art clinics boast extensive facilities including on-site laboratories, full x-ray suites, operating theatres, ultrasonography and separate dog and cat wards that have been carefully designed with mood lighting, aromas and music to offer a calming atmosphere. 

We’ve also worked hard to create a customer experience that’s more akin to an Apple store, than a traditional veterinary practice. We don’t have a reception desk and instead, our front of house team have the autonomy to freely interact with our clients and their pets.

Our waiting areas feature bespoke pods, which give clients their own space and offer pets privacy, thus shielding them from the stresses of facing other pets in a traditional waiting room. Each pod also has its own tablet where clients can update their details, sign up to our Total Wellness Plan or even order fresh and healthy dog food from Butternut Box.

“Everyone wants to know why we want to start another veterinary group now. For Kristie and I the timing is perfect as there is a clear void to fill. The people-focused independent practice is becoming a thing of the past and is what the profession is yearning for.  This will attract the very best team members which in turn will provide a superior client and pet experience.  

"Creating a successful business and building a fantastic team is incredibly exciting and we genuinely believe Harrison Family Vets can become the most innovative, forward-looking and caring practice, as well as the employer of choice for vets and nurses, in the UK.”

VetSurgeon.org wishes Tim and Kristie all the very best luck in the world with their new venture, although one suspects that they won't need to rely on luck. White Cross under his direction was consistently doing extraordinary things to foster what seemed to be a remarkably good working environment. If they can come close to repeating the formula, or improving on it, they must be on to a winner.  

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