Latest Christie & Co review reports 380% increase in Scottish dental practice sales
Specialist business property adviser, Christie & Co, has released its annual Dental Market Review report, which evaluates the UK dental market in 2021 and the first half of 2022. It focuses on pricing trends and funding, private sector performance, the NHS market in England, Scotland, and Wales, and shares an insider view on market sentiment from some of the sector’s leading operators.
Christie & Co, which advised on, valued, or sold over £925 million in dental practice value in 2021, notes the resilience of the dental sector and the rapid recovery of the transactional market over the last 12 months.
Demand & pricing
Demand has increased significantly; Scotland saw a 380 per cent growth in completions from 2017 to 2021, a 65 per cent increase in viewings from 2017 to 2021, and an 81 per cent increase in instructions from 2017 to 2021.
Appetite is strong from independent, corporate, and group purchasers, particularly for larger private or predominately private practices, yet demand continues from a range of buyer types, with Christie & Co selling 33 per cent of practices to corporate buyers between 2021 and H1 2022, 32 per cent to first-time buyers, 24 per cent to existing owners, and 11 per cent to small groups.
Christie & Co’s annual price index is reflective of a pre-pandemic era. In Scotland, where demand is high, flagship practices in sought-after locations have sold for in excess of 9x the EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization).
Before 2021, the average time from offer accepted to exchange was 233 days. This decreased by 19 per cent to an average of 188 days in 2021 and H1 2022.
In England, fully private practices which are share sales typically transact the quickest, whilst asset transactions involving the transfer on an NHS contract take the longest. Other variables include the efficiency of the due diligence process and the CQC registration process which, for an asset deal, takes a minimum of three months. This is less complex in Scotland as no NHS contract transfer is required, and there is no CQC requirement.
NHS dentistry in Scotland is provided on a capitation-based model. All young people under 26 are now eligible for free NHS dental treatment. However, further improvements continue to be called for, particularly around the current SDR (Statement of Dental Remuneration).
Funding support was extended to NHS practices in Scotland after 1 April 2022, when the COVID Financial Support Payment (FSP) system was removed. A new temporary funding support linked to the volume of treatment delivery is currently in place.
Operational review and sentiment
Christie & Co interviewed a cross-section of corporate and independent operators to gain insight into how their businesses have fared and their sentiment for the year ahead. When asked “How have operating conditions been for you over the last 18 months”, 65 per cent said they have improved, 25 per cent said they are broadly the same, and 10 per cent said they have deteriorated.
To the question, “What has the rate of like-for-like growth been in private revenue over the last 12 months?”, 45 per cent said more than 10 per cent, 40 per cent said between 5 and 10 per cent, and 15 per cent said less than 5 per cent. Key growth drivers for this include the continued high demand for cosmetic and aesthetic treatments, patients being more aware of oral health, the access crisis in NHS dentistry, the increase in demand for bigger treatments, digital workflows which are driving efficiencies and better results, and more flexible pricing which enables an increase in fees.
About 50 per cent of those questioned felt the rate of revenue growth was declining, which suggests that, overall, dental spend is greater but pent-up demand might be levelling off.
The report concludes with the analysis of the dental market funding landscape by Christie & Co’s sister company, Christie Finance. It notes that the sector continues to receive encouraging support from lenders, with banks looking positively at NHS, mixed, and purely private practices. Historic performance of the practice, together with the experience of the buyer, continue to be the main driving factors for lenders, with the availability of Associates remaining a key concern.
Paul Graham, Head of Dental at Christie & Co, comments, “The dental market in Scotland is purring with activity. Despite some significant headwinds - not least rising interest rates, geopolitical and economic uncertainty and increasing workforce challenges within the profession - the market has remained robust. This trend doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon, dentistry will continue to be a highly attractive sector for buyers.”
To read the full ‘Dental Market Review 2022’ report, visit: https://www.christie.com/news-resources/publications/dental-market-review/
For further information on this press release, contact:
Phoebe Burrows, Corporate Communications Executive
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