Reinforcing Vitaldent's strategy
VITALDENT, LEADING DENTAL CHAIN OPERATOR IN SOUTHERN EUROPE
Vitaldent is the leading full-service dental provider in Spain and Italy, operating 370 clinics of which 230 directly operated and the rest under a franchise model.
The company was founded in 1990 at a time when the scarcity of dental practitioners made dental treatments very expensive thus only accessible to the mid-high-income layer of population. Vitaldent disrupted the market with modern, high-street located and multi-cabinet clinics, offering the full range of treatments under the same roof obtaining higher volume of patients, higher purchasing power with suppliers and cost synergies in operations, which allowed to make dental services much more affordable. Coupled with access to consumer financing, Vitaldent opened-up the doors to other population segments that previously did not have access to specialised oral health.
Vitaldent enjoyed a first-mover advantage that allowed it to expand rapidly through the opening of clinics benefiting from the growth in the underlying market and also gaining market share in an extremely fragmented market composed of single practitioner-clinic, becoming the undisputed market leader.
Vitaldent withstood well the Spanish economic downturn thanks to the resilience of the healthcare component of its business, and a very loyal patient base.
In the earlies 2010s the Spanish market witnessed the entrance of other independent players such as Dentix or Unidental, but also healthcare insurers that saw the opportunity to carve-out the volumes exploited by traditional dentists leveraging on their good reputation as healthcare providers.
In 2013 ICG provided a unitranche facility to refinance outstanding bank debt and fund an expansion plan abroad.
JB CAPITAL ENTERED VITALDENT FOLLOWING A REPUTATION ISSUE INVOLVING FORMER SHAREHOLDER
In February 2016, the founder and former majority shareholder of Vitaldent was investigated for tax evasion and consequently the administration of the businesses was seized and entrusted to Deloitte. Despite the issue was purely a managerial abuse at shareholder level with no operational impact whatsoever, the broad media coverage, given the brand recognition of Vitaldent, generated bad reputation that severely affected traffic in clinics.
JB Capital provided an interim facility in August 2016 to fund the day-to-day operations and in November placed the best bid taking over the business from the administrator in an asset deal in agreement with the main lender, who also acquired part of the equity.
Since the closing of the acquisition JB Capital focused on building trust again among patients, suppliers, employees and franchisees, hired a new management team and restructured operations.
Javier Martín, CEO of Vitaldent since early 2017, says: “the mission of Vitaldent is to make quality dentistry accessible to the broad public using the latest technology available to deliver the best treatments based on our comprehensive diagnosis policy executed by our highly skilled practitioners”.
KARTESIA’S ROLE KEY FOR THE EXECUTION OF THE SECOND STAGE OF VITALDENT’S STRATEGIC PLAN
“Kartesia started conversations with JB Capital and has been following the improvements in trading during 2018, until we were comfortable with the entry point”, points out Tomás, and adds: “we assess the turnaround as being successfully accomplished, for which the team at JB Capital and the CEO deserve a lot of credit”.
Kartesia offered liquidity to the former lender for whom remaining invested in Vitaldent was not a priority anymore. On 28 September 2018 Kartesia acquired the outstanding unitranche facility and signed with Vitaldent an amendment agreement that extended the maturity until 2024. This allows to secure a stable capital structure for the next 6 years so that Vitaldent can fully focus on its growth plan.
The refinancing included the deployment of new tranches of capital that will be utilised to support the organic growth of the business, to tackle inorganic growth opportunities across Southern Europe and to boost the Italian activities with investments in experienced dentists and new equipment.
“After 20 months during which we have completed the first stage of our strategic plan, the time has come to focus our efforts in growing the business through 10-15 new openings per year and selective acquisitions in Spain and Italy”, Javier explains, and continues: “the support of the current shareholder and Kartesia to the transaction are positive signs validating that we are heading in the right direction”.
As a result of the transaction, JB Capital increases its stake in Vitaldent whereas the incentives of all stakeholders including Kartesia get fully aligned in the value creation. “We have built a strong relationship with the team at JB Capital and the management, and after a thorough assessment of the business we believe Vitaldent is the company with the best practices in the sector, hence optimally positioned to capture market share in what we deem as a shift in demand towards quality in dental services”, Jaime concludes.