One third of practice owners have a higher revenue now than before COVID-19

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The dental market in the UK has had a ‘strong recovery’ from the impact of the pandemic, it has been revealed.

This is according to the latest dental market review from Christie & Co.

In March 2020, dental practices were forced to close as countries across the world were plunged into lockdown.

But the report states that as reopening plans became clearer, confidence in the dental market began to return.

Some trends that emerged included:

  • Spike in enquiries from first-time buyers. There was also an uptick in their age profiles, suggesting that more experienced associates were looking for greater security through practice ownership
  • The average time from launching a new instruction to an offer being accepted reduced from the prior year. In 2019, this stood at 12 weeks but it dropped to 10.5 weeks in 2020.

Reopening

There was also strong recovery from July onwards, the month after dental practices were able to resume face-to-face care. In particular, there was a high demand for private dentistry, which the report suggests could be down to a spike in video calls.

Additionally, they found 35% of practice owners said they now have a higher revenue now than before COVID-19.

However, when compared to the hygiene income, more than 80% state that revenue is less than 50% recovered. This reflects the prolonged challenges of delivering care with restricted patient numbers.

Finally, around 85% of owners questioned believe revenue will have fully recovered by the end of quarter two in 2021.

Recruitment

The pandemic led to a highly competitive recruitment environment and increased costs linked to associates.

The closure of practices in March 2020 led to a significant shift in supply and demand. Many associates in private practice looked to the security of the NHS, leading to a temporary surplus of associates.

Market recovery

The report suggests that sale prices have held, with pre-COVID price returning at the start of 2021.

There was also a marginal increase in the average multiple (key measure of value) paid for bigger practices. In comparison, the average multiple paid for owner/principal-led practices dropped slightly.

Deals were agreed at an average of 103% of the asking price in the post-lockdown period. This compares to an average of 105% in the first quarter of 2020, confirming that demand for practices returned.

Paul Graham is head of dental at Christie & Co. He says: ‘We are delighted to be publishing our latest dental market review which, for the first time, includes opinion and valuable statistics from a range of corporate, group and independent practice owners.

‘It’s encouraging that sentiment is so positive, and dentistry has weathered the COVID-19 storm so well to date.’


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