Apiam records $4 million profit, makes expansion plans

By Geoff Adams

Bendigo-based veterinarian company Apiam has recorded an after-tax profit of $4.2 million, on an annual turnover of $118 million.

Managing director Chris Richards said the company, which operates 46 clinics around Australia, experienced strong growth during the financial year, despite the many challenges faced by rural communities.

Apiam is also building a new $1 million veterinary clinic in Shepparton which will be a base for dairy specialists as well as small-animal vets.

Apiam chief executive officer Chris Richards said the clinic would have three veterinarians and an equal number of support staff and should be open in time for summer.

While ostensibly geared towards small animals, the company intends to service some dairy customers from its Benalla Rd office which will be known as Furr Life Vet Shepparton. The company also has clinics in Echuca, Finley, Nathalia, Bendigo and Kyabram.

Apiam employs 150 veterinarians and a total of 600 employees.

Dr Richards said revenue in the dairy and companion animal segments performed strongly as industry conditions improved with higher rainfall.

Revenue from the pork sector was impacted by low margin wholesale sales.

Dr Richards said the COVID-19 restrictions had resulted in an increase in pet ownership

The company's new subscription service for companion animals, called "Best Mates", which offers unlimited vet checks and discounts on products, and the ProDairy consultancy program also made a successful start.

Mr Richards said the COVID-19 restrictions had seen an increase in pet ownership and an accompanying demand for animal health services.

On the issue of future growth, Dr Richards said the company was looking at population growth areas to see if new clinics could be established there and was also looking at larger clinics which had skill sets that could be applied across other clinics, particularly for the production animal businesses.

The company has established an acquisition fund of $15 million.

During the year Apiam launched its own in-house mental health strategy for employees, and has extended the program to some regional customers as well in the dairy, feedlot and pig industries.

“Vets are very passionate and caring about animals and passionate about their clients, and they often wear the troubles of their clients,” Dr Richards said.

“Vets spend a lot of time with people they know personally in the community as well as being their clients, and if those people are under stress the vets tend to take that on board themselves.

“Also, particularly in the farming side, it is a real issue in the whole of rural Australia, and all of those support industries get affected by what is happening with farmers.”

Apiam also has a charitable foundation and a large proportion of the fund went to Rural Aid last year.