‘Better products, better efficiency and better pricing’ – these are the plans for DD following a fresh bout of investment.
Palamon Capital Partners and IDH Group – the owner of Mydentist – announced the sale of DD in a move that brings new funds to the UK dental market.
Purchased by an affiliate of Sun European Partners LLP, DD will now take its services to the next level to improve its offering within dentistry.
Its plans include the expansion and improvement of support to an increasing number of customers across healthcare sectors in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. But the new ownership also means DD have full operational independence from any other dental provider.
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Paul Adams, chief executive of DD, spoke to Dentistry about how the investment will help DD to change the dental landscape for the better.
‘Historically, we’ve been constrained with capital,’ he said. ‘This will help us to expand and move into new territories that before we just couldn’t reach.
‘Secondly, it will enable us to keep putting money into the infrastructure to allow us to become a service provider of choice with the most modern and up to date ways of communicating with the customer.’
For DD, they see the development as a huge opportunity for UK dentistry to demonstrate to other markets just how it can be done.
‘Online ordering, for example, is still less than 50% in Europe,’ says Paul. ‘But 85% to 90% of DD customers place orders online. That’s a big shift in buying patterns.
‘Secondly, the breadth of products used by dentists in the UK is less developed in other countries – maybe excluding the USA. We should not underestimate how far forward UK dentists have moved in adopting different product/clinical solutions.’
He added: ‘We have listened to our customers formally and informally to improve our support. Our customers are going to see better and more efficient products from us.
‘From an economic point of view, as we continue to grow, it also means lower prices for customers: the better range of products we source, the cheaper priced, good quality, products for customers.
‘But it’s also about the all-round support to help take the headaches away from training, compliance, equipment maintenance, asset management and the other issues that can drive dentists to despair.’
The newly-found independence, says Paul, will bring more freedom for the company’s ambitions.
‘I think the other elephant in the room is that independent dentists don’t like us being connected to corporates,’ he said.
‘Not always but that’s the kind of coffee machine conversation. Of course, we’re no longer associated with a corporate, so we now have the positioning and the freedom to operate where the dentist can feel there’s no corporate interest.
‘Following the sale, we do still have a longer term commercial contract with IDH/MyDentist that includes integrated systems with them for ordering.
‘It just means that now they’ve got independence and we’ve got independence so it works for both sides.’
Speaking about the investor, he added: ‘The difference is – and I’ve noticed this going through the sale, although these are sweeping statements, a lot of time when going through these processes, UK based investors tend to be looking for all the things that can go wrong.
‘American investors, typically, also look at the things that can go right. They tend to see the opportunity rather than just the risk. This is a much better way of thinking.
‘So from my point of view, I’m delighted because it’s an optimistic level of support. When it comes to the future of dentistry, Paul believes more leadership is needed to make the vital changes.
‘I think we will then be able to reset the current situation and start to get more dentists into the UK. We need more dentists to help support the differences in the social structures within the UK. Not everybody can afford private treatment.’ he added.
‘Dentists do a lot for wellbeing and I think that’s undervalued. They are helping patients’ health, giving them smiles and, in some instances, they’re giving some people their lives back. We should never underestimate the importance of that.
‘But something has got to change. I do think the move to private dentistry is healthy and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
‘But I also think there needs to be support for NHS dentistry. We are going to have to go further afield to get dentists in and we need legislation faster to allow the infrastructure to bring in new dentists. We need more national leadership for dentistry.
‘I and DD will be doing everything possible to support the growth of dentists and dentistry within the UK.’
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