FIVP statement on CMA’s review of the veterinary sector

In September 2023, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced that it would be conducting a review of the prices and provisions of veterinary services and medicines by practices. We welcomed this investigation, and partook in several debates about how this impacts independent practices.

We have now received the findings of this survey, which we read with great interest.

The CMA’s findings have highlighted the devastating effect that corporate-owned practices are having on the veterinary industry as a whole. The increase in these types of practices contributes to sector consolidation, which is leading to weakened competition.

These practices remain profit-oriented, investing in higher-cost treatments and restricting consumers’ access to lower-cost treatments. However the scale of these organisations mean that clients in some locations are left with no choice but to sign up with a corporate group.

Four out of the six corporate groups were even found to not be changing the name or branding of the independent practices they bought. This can mislead pet owners, who may find themselves comparing practices which are not actually competitors.

To confront this concern, among others, the CMA has proposed a Market Investigation. This will allow them to investigate its concerns further, and intervene with the market if it deems necessary.

The CMA has launched a four-week consultation on the proposal. It will seek views from the sector until 11 April 2024.

FIVP business development manager Rita Dingwall said: “FIVP has been fully supportive of the CMA’s review, since it was launched in September last year.

“We are glad to see that its findings confirm the stance that we have held for many years – that the consolidation of the veterinary profession is detrimental, not only to the clients we serve, but also to the veterinary profession as a whole.

“The spread of corporate-owned, profit-oriented practices across the country will mean that veterinary costs continue to soar.

“This consolidation also increases the practices’ purchasing power, allowing them to negotiate medicine prices which independent practices couldn’t possibly achieve. Independent practices could feel pressured to increase their own prices, as they compete with corporate groups for recruitment and medicines.

“FIVP will continue to support the CMA as it moves onto the next stage of its investigation, and will always stand up for independent practices.”