A YORK-based veterinary group is expanding across Europe following the acquisition of three Italian practices.

Small animal practices in Ferrara, Florence and Parma will this week join VetPartners, which has its headquarters in Holgate.

Established in 2015 by CEO Jo Malone, VetPartners has grown significantly and now boasts more than 120 practices in the UK, with 5,250 employees working in more than 450 sites.

The latest acquisitions mark VetPartners’ first venture into Europe and it is set for further expansion in Italy as three more practices will join by the end of the year, to create a platform of businesses in the country.

VetPartners has appointed David Giraldi, joint owner of Ospedale Degli Animali in Ferrara, as their Italian-based managing director.

Mrs Malone said: “We are creating a platform of practices for future growth. While they will be part of the extended VetPartners’ family and there will be shared initiatives, this is an Italian company, led by an Italian vet and colleagues. They will have autonomy to create their own team. There are cultural and regulatory differences, however, we will help in any way we can.

“We have been looking at expansion in Italy for a while, but it has taken time to find people who match our ethos with a love of the profession and desire to safeguard it for the future. We believe we have found that in our new colleagues in Italy, so we are starting a new business there.

“It was also about finding the right person to oversee this. David is extremely knowledgeable and someone who has the profession at heart, not to mention huge drive.”

Mr Giraldi said: “It’s a great privilege to join VetPartners and particularly to be the first Italian practices. I have always been fascinated by the rapid growth of VetPartners in England and thought that a very strong inspiring leadership, solid values coupled with advanced management skills are the reason.”

VetPartners is also interested in acquiring practices in France, Germany, Netherlands and Italy.

Mrs Malone said people were looking for a future as part of a larger team, where their practice could thrive and feel supported. “We have some of the UK’s best veterinary businesses across small animal, equine, mixed and farm, and 2020 will see further growth in each of our species groups, both in the UK and Europe.”