Norwich-based care group Black Swan expanding despite sector pressures

Chiswick House care home in Norwich, which is run by Black Swan International.

Chiswick House care home in Norwich, which is run by Black Swan International. - Credit: Black Swan International

A fast-growing care group is looking to bolster its portfolio in the coming weeks with two new acquisitions, as it revealed its intention to continue expanding.

Black Swan International is poised to purchase its third home in Norwich and has also agreed a deal to buy another facility in Essex.

Over the last two years the group has increased its turnover by nearly 50% and its managing director has said he is aiming to continue the trend in the coming years.

Tom Lyons, who has run the group since February this year, said turnover is now at about £9.5m a year and there are plans to increase it.

The group has 13 sites on its books, a mixture of homes for the elderly and those for disabled people, and that is poised to go up to 15 within the next few weeks as it continues to expand.

While pressures continue to build in the industry, the Norwich-based company has been drawing up schemes to expand some of its existing homes to increase the number of beds available. Currently the group has about 300 residents with a total of 389 beds.

Mr Lyons, 35, said the care industry was going through a challenging period but his company was continuing to thrive.

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He said: 'The care market is very challenging. The number of regulations which have to be complied with is considerable. The Care Quality Commission is very thorough and changes its standards regularly. Keeping up with legislation is hard work. A number of owner-operator homes are struggling. To be able to keep up you have to have a good infrastructure in place to comply with the changes in legislation. Add to that the increase to the national living wage – in care homes wages are more than 50% of costs – and it is a difficult time.'

Mr Lyons said Black Swan, which will have around 500 staff once the deals are completed, would be looking to invest around £500,000 in the Essex home, Drummonds in Feering near Colchester, and 'a few hundred thousand' in the Norwich home, which has not yet been revealed.

With an ageing population and with people living longer, the care industry is expected to continue to grow, with a 42% increase in the number of homes being seen between 2010 and 2015.

This comes at a time when there is less local government funding available, with many care homes moving towards a primarily private model.

However Mr Lyons said Black Swan was 'stronger than ever' and reaffirmed its commitment to East Anglia, saying it would only look to buy facilities within the area.

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