A veterinary business is believed to be the first equine practice in the country to become employee owned after transferring into an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT), thereby safeguarding its future as an independent business.

Lingfield Equine Vets, which has practices in Surrey and Kent, had three previous sole shareholders, comprising of George Christopherson, Rachel Atherton and Kate Granshaw.

“We believe we are the first equine practice in the country to become an EOT,” said Director, George Christopherson. “Unlike the other large equine practices in the south-east, we never felt comfortable with the idea of selling to a corporate giant, so becoming an EOT felt like the perfect solution for us.

“The data is very clear, employee-owned businesses have higher employee retention, work more efficiently and have a team who are ultimately more satisfied and successful, which is great news for everyone in the practice and our clients. In the future, Lingfield Equine Vets should also be able to offer some of the best salaries in the industry, as increasingly any surplus profits will be distributed amongst all employees.”

The three shareholders took advice from Kent based Pennard Vets, which became the world’s largest employee-owned practice in 2021 and has since helped guide numerous other practices through the process.

“We would like to thank Pennard Vets for showing us the best way to approach the EOT process and we are very happy with the outcome,” said George. “Moving forward we feel that being an EOT will help attract and retain the very best equine professionals, and due to expansion, we are currently recruiting for at least three team members this year alone.”

Lingfield Equine Vets has grown from just four vets when it opened in 2007 in Felbridge near East Grinstead, to now having 14 vets, as well as a support team of 12. The main hospital site includes several treatment rooms, an operating theatre, stables, turnout paddocks, school, lunge area and trot up space. A second practice in Ashford, Kent, was opened in 2021, which has an office, lameness work up facilities and stables.

“We hope that becoming an EOT will attract even more new and experienced vets who want to be part of an independent, employee-owned practice,” added George. “It’s an exciting time for everyone involved and we would encourage other practices to explore the many benefits that becoming an EOT provides.”

Lead image, from left to right: Kate Granshaw George Christopherson and Rachel Atherton from Lingfield Equine Vets

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