Industry News

Multiple concerns identified in vets market

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has provisionally decided it should launch a formal market investigation into the veterinary sector after its initial review raised multiple concerns.

The CMA launched its review of the sector in September 2023 and issued a Call For Information. This brought 56,000 responses – including 45,000 from the general public and 11,000 responses from those working in the vet industry. The CMA also secured feedback from vet practices, industry bodies, charities, and others to understand the issues in the provision of these services.

The initial review highlighted multiple concerns in the market, including:

  • Consumers may not be given enough information to enable them to choose the best veterinary practice or the right treatment for their needs.
  • Concentrated local markets, in part driven by sector consolidation, may be leading to weak competition in some areas.
  • Large corporate groups may have incentives to act in ways which reduce choice and weaken competition.
  • Pet owners might be overpaying for medicines or prescriptions.
  • The regulatory framework is outdated and may no longer be fit for purpose.

The CMA has provisionally decided that it should launch a formal Market Investigation focused on its provisional analysis of the issues in the sector and is now consulting on this proposal.

A market investigation enables the CMA to investigate its concerns in full and to intervene directly in markets if it finds that competition is not working well. It also gives the CMA access to a wide range of legally enforceable remedies, such as mandating the provision of certain information to consumers, imposing maximum prescription fees, and ordering the sale or disposal of a business or assets.

Sarah Cardell, Chief Executive of the CMA, said: “Given these strong indications of potential concern, it is time to put our work on a formal footing. We have provisionally decided to launch a market investigation because that’s the quickest route to enable us to take direct action, if needed.”

In response, a Pets at Home spokesperson, said: “We are incredibly disappointed the CMA’s findings today do not fully reflect our unique business model of locally-owned vet practices. Whilst our brand is national, our veterinary practices are led by individual entrepreneurial vets who have clinical and operational freedom. They choose all pricing, products and services to ensure the best care for clients and their much-loved pets in their local area, which promotes competition in the market and helps to keep prices low.

“We have been working closely with the CMA on their areas of concern and will continue to do so as their inquiry progresses to ensure the distinctiveness of our model is fully recognised.”

The CMA has launched a four-week consultation to seek views from the sector on the proposal to launch a market investigation. The consultation closes on 11 April 2023 at which point it will consider the responses received and a decision will be made on how to proceed.

One Comment

  • Julie Harris-Stephens

    I am pleased to hear that there will be an investigation by the CMA. In my area Mars are the owners of quite a few practices and large referral centres. Since the take overs charges have increased drastically. Recently The Kennel Club announced a five year partnership with Mars promoting two brands of food that Mars own. There was many grumbles from people in the dog world who felt the KC should not be biased towards these products. It seems as though these large corporations have their fingers in every pie now which is a grave concern in my opinion.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *