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Diss-based CVS Group to continue growth

PUBLISHED: 09:11 18 March 2011 | UPDATED: 09:30 18 March 2011

Acquisitions have helped boost sales at veterinary group CVS and growth at the business is set to continue, the firm said yesterday.

The Diss-based company said sales grew 21.7pc to £50.5m in the six months to December 31, compared to the same six months last year, mostly due to acquisitions.

However, severe winter weather, which was estimated to have cost the business £0.4m in lost sales and like-for-like sales decreased by 2.1pc for the period.

In an interim trading statement, chief executive Simon Innes said the AIM listed firm had been impacted by the weather and “continued economic uncertainty”.

It saw a 23.4pc drop in pre-tax profits to £2.2m and a drop in operating profit of 14.7pc to £3.2m, compared to the same period last year, but said this was due to increased non-cash charges over the prior period.

Chairman Richard Connell said this showed there was “significant scope” left for further expansion in the UK market.

The firm was operating 214 veterinary surgeries in the UK (up from 170 in 2009) and is the largest employer in the profession with more than 2,200 staff. But this is estimated to be 4pc of UK practising vets.

Mr Connell said: “The board estimates that CVS accounts for approximately 10pc of the UK small animal veterinary sector measured by wholesaler spend and believes that this fragmented market will provide opportunities for further consoli-dation and strategic acquisitions.”

Mr Connell said the firm’s newly launched online dispensary and pet shop Animed Direct had successfully launched in July and had exceeded the board’s expectations and was already profitable.

Mr Innes said: “CVS continues to develop new revenue streams as demonstrated by the successful launch of Animed Direct, an on-line dispensary and pet shop and growing subscriptions to the Healthy Pet Club loyalty scheme. The group will maintain its focus on developing the underlying business, maximising potential revenue opportunities, identifying cost reduction opportunities and growing through selective strategic acquisitions.”

The firm grew rapidly in the first half of last year, with a string of acquisitions. Since the end of its half-year period CVS has bought a single-site practice in Swansea.

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