In the midst of multiple lockdowns, the phrase ‘new normal’ was an alliterative addition to all our vocabularies. At the time the term generally referred to the new way of life to which we were all adapting whilst restrictions were imposed. In fact, in the UK the last restrictions were only lifted in Wales, in late May, following England and Northern Ireland doing so in February, and Scotland in March. As those restrictions have been lifted, it has come to reflect the fact not every aspect of life will return to its pre-pandemic modus operandi, and that some changes are here to stay, for example the dramatic increase in remote and hybrid working, and will therefore become the new normal. Underpinning all this of course, is how different sectors of the economy are bouncing back. Andy Acton of Frank Taylor & Associates give us his views on the dental practice market.
“I’m sure like many of us over the last couple of years, there were times when I wondered if we’d ever see the end of the pandemic, however, data from the early part of this year is very encouraging in a number of areas,” says Andy. “There is a requirement for the delivery of NHS services back to pre-pandemics levels, and private fees, on a like for like basis, are showing an increase of 25% to 35%. When you add in the fact that a lot of practices are experiencing difficulties in recruiting staff to help them meet that extra demand, it’s easy to see why most dentists are busier now than they have ever been.”
“It’s also encouraging that the banks are being supportive to the sector.” continues Andy. “We are aware of instances where there has been 100% funding provided, which suggests the longer term view the banks hold of the industry is one of stability and growth, meaning they feel confident in making loans of this nature. At FTA we have over 5,500 buyers registered with us, a figure that is growing by the month, and we are seeing sellers get excellent values for their practices, with goodwill figures at record levels. All this helps to paint a very healthy picture of the sector”.
“More generally across the dental industry, confidence is returning and there have already been two big events, with good attendances levels, in the Dentistry Show and Dental Showcase,” Andy points out. “Turnout at one of these events is often a good litmus test of confidence in the market, as the main reason delegates site for attending, is to do a little ‘window shopping’. This is supported by manufacturers, who’ve seen a welcome increase in sales this year”.
“Of course, we can’t rest on our laurels, there is still work to be done and if the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that things can change quickly and unexpectedly, so there is no room for complacency, but we do have every reason to feel confident”.