A concept dreamed up by five friends over a chinese meal has led to the imminent opening of what is being hailed as the first veterinary practice in the UK to be owned entirely by its employees.

A concept dreamed up by five friends over a chinese meal has led to the imminent opening of what is being hailed as the first veterinary practice in the UK to be owned entirely by its employees.

Local communities in and around Causewayhead will benefit from the new service when Animal Tails Veterinary Practice opens its doors on May 21, 2012 – just slightly more than a year after that fateful discussion over dim sum.

The Animal Tails team: [Back row, L-R] Veterinary surgeon Shelley Fitzpatrick and VNs Katie Miller & Luisa Fallon [Front, L-R] receptionist Deborah Baxter and vet Stephanie Whyte.The practice has regenerated an empty building in the heart of Causewayhead (near Stirling) and turned it into a modern facility that offers a “welcoming and interactive experience” to potential clients with an innovative website, the use of up to date technology and loyalty schemes.

However, what makes Animal Tails particularly unique is the fact that it is co-owned by five local women, making it the first 100% employee owned practice in the UK – quite an apt proposition in 2012, the International Year of the Co-operatives.

The business is also an “all women” operation, making it something of a rarity in a profession dominated by men at management level.

Director and VN Luisa Fallon said: “As far as we know, this will be the first completely employee-owned veterinary practice to open in the United Kingdom.”

She explained: “This is a significant departure from the traditional tier managed practices and, more recently, the corporate models that are trading at the moment. It is also differs from the partnership style practices because all the employees, including those that are not veterinary surgeons, are owners. Only recently have we seen veterinary nurses become partners in practice, so the concept of an all employee-owned veterinary practice is new to the industry.”

Animal Tails has worked closely with employee ownership experts Baxi Partnership and have been supported by Co-operative Development Scotland to build the right structures that harness the motivation of all employees while ensuring the efficient delivery of a high quality service to clients.

Animal TailsVeterinary surgeon Stephanie Whyte explained: “One of the biggest challenges in modern veterinary practices is high staff turnover and low morale which has a knock-on effect that clients notice.

We’re confident our practice can provide something different, and our staff will look forward to coming to work.”

John Alexander of Baxi Partnership said: “We are delighted to have been able to provide advice and funding to help this exciting new venture happen. The employee ownership model, providing the right support is in place, could be replicated across other vet practices in the UK and we look forward to seeing the interest this launch generates in the coming months.”

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