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Insight into the UK’s Private Transactional Market

In his latest blog post, Steve Darbon, Director - Medical, shares his insights into the UK's private transactional dental market.

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Steve Darbon

Steve Darbon

Director – Dental


Despite operational and economic challenges, the UK dental market remains robust, and we’re seeing a particular appetite from independent buyers. Typically, 70% of practices we sell are purchased by independent operators and first-time buyers, and we expect this to continue as they recognise the opportunities in the market and a wish to capitalise on the needs-driven nature of the sector. 

With the loss of many NHS staff to the private sector, along with the barrier for non-UK dentists to practice NHS dentistry, this is having a considerable impact on NHS performance and patient access to those services. While there has been a big push from dental operators to overcome those recruitment and retention issues, access to NHS dentists in many areas remains challenging, pushing patients to pay privately.

This continued strain on the NHS means that private dentistry remains a keen focus for buyers. The private sector is generally more agile and, alongside the flexibility to introduce additional clinical services, we expect to see treatment prices increase as owners seek to shift part of the added operational costs onto patients. Demand for both fully private practices and mixed-income practices, where delivery and performance on NHS contracts is manageable and maintained, remains strong, as buyers still recognise the security that such these contracts bring, along with the potential gains that can be made through private treatments.

Outlook for the private market this year: 

Following a record-breaking year in 2022 for transactional activity at Christie & Co, where we advised on, valued or sold over £1.3 billion in practice value across our specialist dental team, including over 130 successful practice sales; demand and activity so far in 2023 reflects the same positive trends and we forecast a continued increase in transaction numbers throughout the rest of the year.

We also expect that:  

  • High demand for private practices will remain, as private dentistry continues to benefit from growing waiting lists for NHS appointments
  • The market will become more quality-driven and practices which are future-proofed will continue to attract premium prices as demand exceeds supply for the best opportunities
  • Practices with NHS contracts will be subject to more scrutiny by purchasers and lenders in respect of UDA delivery and practice economics. Demand will continue to be strong for those with higher UDA rates and a good track record of delivery
  • Corporate operators and other dental groups will continue to seek specialist practices to drive internal referral income
  • Any tightening of consumer spending is likely to affect cosmetic and aesthetic revenues more than general treatments
  • Further reforms in NHS dentistry are crucial to combat the shift towards private and the loss of dentists in the NHS. There is likely to be a rise in practices either rebasing or handing back their NHS contracts as practices convert partly to private/plan
  • Demand for platform opportunities from new investors will remain strong. Group opportunities where NHS income is the smaller revenue stream will remain in high demand, particularly those that are fully integrated with a functioning head office structure
  • Global technology companies will use virtual reality, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and 3D printing to accelerate efficiencies in the sector, especially in cosmetic and private dentistry

To find out more about the private market, or for a confidential chat about your business options, contact Steve Darbon:  / 07702 809 564

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