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The 2023 Scottish Dental Market in Review

In this short article, Joel Mannix, Associate Director - Dental, outlines the Scottish dental market in 2023 and what he expects to see in dentistry in 2024.

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The swift escalation in interest rates, soaring operational costs, and staffing difficulties led many corporate entities to halt their acquisition strategies in early 2023. This resulted in a notable decrease in transaction volumes as companies shifted their focus towards organic growth over acquisitions. Despite this, Christie & Co brought 31 new Scottish dental practices to market last year, arranged over 110 viewings, and secured one offer for every two viewings.

The independent dental market saw a resurgence in the latter half of 2023. With reduced competition from corporate buyers, there was a significant uptick in transactions involving first-time buyers, current owners, or smaller independent groups, accounting for circa 90% of our deals in Scotland. The latter half of 2023 also saw an improved influx of new practices entering the market. Looking forward, we are optimistic about a return to more stable trading conditions as this trend continues in 2024.

This year, we expect to see:

  • The transactional volume within the market will rebound. However, it's anticipated that these levels will still fall short of the peak witnessed in 2022. This forecast suggests a gradual recovery and stabilisation of market activity, moving towards a more sustainable pace in comparison to the heights reached during the market's zenith. 
  • M&A activity from corporate operators will reflect a strategic recalibration, with these entities showing restraint in their investment choices and a heightened focus on long-term value over immediate expansion.  
  • During a period where corporate entities are exercising enhanced selectivity in their acquisitions, experienced multi-site independent operators and first-time buyers are poised to capitalise on this opportunity. This scenario presents a prime opportunity for these operators and newcomers to expand their foothold in the market and establish a stronger presence. 
  • Some group operators will continue with strategic plans to review and divest underperforming or non-core sites, reflecting a focused effort to streamline their operations and enhance overall efficiency. 

 ​For the full Business Outlook 2024 report, visit:

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