Kent-based Pennard Vets has been named the Employee Ownership Association’s (EOA) ‘Rising Star’, which recognises the success of an organisation that is less than three years into its employee ownership journey.
Pennard Vets, a B-Corp-certified veterinary group with eight practices in Kent, became the world’s largest employee-owned practice in 2021.
A key ambition when it took the decision to make its entire 150-strong team business and practice owners, by transferring the business into an employee ownership trust (EOT), was to protect both its independence and core values, which date back more than 125 years.
The award judges noted that Pennard Vets had really leveraged their employee ownership (EO) to deliver impacts on growth and staff satisfaction through embedding a great EO culture in the team.
In addition, they had sought to protect the business’ independence and become a champion of EO within the veterinary sector. The award was presented at the EOA Conference in Liverpool.
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.
“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. These include 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.”