BREXIT could lead to a credit tightening and exacerbate the UK’s shortage of veterinary surgeons, according to a leading industry figure.
Tim Harrison, the managing director of Yorkshire-based White Cross Vets, warned that many of his competitors employed a significant number of vets from Europe.
Some analysts fear that the talentpipeline of vets from the European Union could be jeopardised or cut off after Brexit.
Mr Harrison, who is overseeing the rapid expansion of White Cross Vets, told The Yorkshire Post: “My fear around Brexit is really two-fold.
“One, is it may produce tightening of credit and that may impact on our growth abilities, because we are opening new practices.
“Secondly, our industry has a shortage of vets and veterinary nurses.
“We are in a fortunate position that 95 plus per cent of our vets are UK graduates.”
However, Mr Harrison said that was not the case with most veterinary groups in the UK.
Around 20 to 40 per cent of their veterinary surgeons came from Europe, he added.
He added: “If that number was to fall, it is going to create a real shortage.
“There’s already a UK shortage. There will be an even bigger shortage of available veterinary surgeons in particular which is filled, at the moment, from Europe.”
He added: “We’re not seeing any negative consequences of Brexit at the moment. From a trading perspective, the last 18 months to two years has been very strong.
Mr Harrison said the business, which is based in Yeadon, near Leeds, was on an upward trend and he was looking to increase the scale of the openings.
The family-owned company is one of the fastest growing veterinary groups in the UK. The group already operates 16 practices, including sites in Guiseley and Roundhay, near Leeds, and it also has a strong presence in the West Midlands with practices in Birmingham, Walsall and Dudley.
Mr Harrison added: “We’ve opened one or two practices a year for the last two or three years.
“The business has grown by 20 per cent each year for the last three years and we’ll do that again this year.
“We’ve forecast that we will do it again the following year as well.
“We’ve added 50 staff this year and we should be taking on another 30 in the next six or seven months. We will be up to that 250 mark in about 12 months time.”
He said the company was focusing its growth on areas with heavy population density.
He added: “We’re opening in north Bradford in September, we are opening a site in east Manchester in January and in March or April, we will be opening in the south of Sheffield.
“This year we’ll hit about £10.5m turnover and we think next year it will be just over £12.5m.
“The main thing that makes the difference is the quality of people.
“I left the office this morning and we had a couple of dogs running around,” he said.
“That’s just part of our culture. We’re all pet owners. We’re all passionate about pets and we are all passionate about making life better for families.
“Heritage is important. This year we are celebrating our 80 year anniversary. It was bought by my family in 1975.
“We were founded in 1937 by two ladies out of a small purpose built surgery at the bottom of a driveway in the village of Menston, near Guiseley, in Leeds.
“It has built an incredible reputation for caring and service. Our biggest challenge as we grow is to maintain that culture.”
Britain’s economic growth has changed little since the vote to leave the European Union but the value of Sterling has declined.