Growth into focus
Starting out from one practice back in September 2007, Managing Partners, Vishal Marwaha and Geoff McCullough, have expanded to incorporate five practices located across the Central Belt. In addition, they offer specialism in the niche but competitive market of homecare visits, through their Visioncare at Home brand.
Also launched in 2007, this business focuses largely on the nursing home market, but also offers residential and corporate services.
“Our home visit business has been remarkably successful and turnover has dramatically increased, more than doubling in the last year,” says Vishal. “It is a competitive market, but we’re forecasting that this part of our portfolio will increase by 60-80% in the coming year.”
The growth of the business, combined with the enthusiasm and obvious business skill of its owners, has not gone unnoticed by RBS. In addition to day to day banking facilities, the bank also provided loan funding for the acquisition of MM Eyecare’s second practice in January 2009. Following a further acquisition in May 2010, the business was then transferred to RBS’ specialist Healthcare team in October 2010 as part of a deal which included funding to secure a further two acquisitions.
“Having a dedicated relationship manager, who’s focused on healthcare, is fantastic. Our RBS relationship managers have really taken the time to understand our business and they have an awareness of the issues that the market faces,” Vishal explains.
“We are an acquisitive business – our track record speaks for itself – but this is a market where opportunities to acquire practices don’t come along very often and there’s often a major player waiting in the wings. So, when there is an opportunity, you need to grab it with both hands.”
Having a supportive banking partner is crucial to enabling a business to move quickly in such cases, before opportunities are lost. Having sector specialism is an added bonus, which brings a valuable understanding of the challenges and issues facing the market. “It has been a challenging period,” agrees Vishal.
“Downturns always lead to business falling off as people put off spending. But, we’ve weathered the downturn and feeling very positive about the future. In terms of banking support, we’ve been fortunate. Unexpectedly finding two acquisition opportunities was a drain
on our cashflow. We’d never had an overdraft facility previously, but the bank was very good at arranging that for us. And, on our part, we should be back to normal very shortly.
”Now with five independent practices in Bishopbriggs, Summerston, Boness, Linlithgow and Stirling, MM Eyecare is looking towards a period of consolidation. “We’re aiming to stabilise our latest acquisitions and build up a capital fund which we can reinvest in those practices,” says Vishal. “We want to increase sales and push profitability. We’ve also recently launched a third company, which sits alongside the practices and the homecare division, and this is a glazing company, which will manufacture the lenses for the frames we offer.
“We’re also creating a new management company to oversee the other companies, which will, for example, increase our purchasing power.”
It’s clear to see that MM Eyecare has a bright future ahead.