Swindon & Wiltshire Business News

Veterinary trainer gets £5.5 million cash injection

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A veterinary training provider has secured a £5.5 million funding package from Santander UK to support its growth plans.

Swindon-based Improve International offers continuing professional development training and education, alongside post-graduate qualifications for vets and veterinary nurses through its International School of Veterinary Postgraduate Studies brand.

With lockdowns making face-to-face training a challenge, the company quickly adapted, growing its portfolio of online courses.

By the end of this year, it will have launched seven new online courses - including ophthalmology last month - across multiple languages.

Demand for online courses has soared during the pandemic, with students in more countries than ever before signing up.

Improve International’s strategy is now focused on expanding its online learning offering in its existing global markets and new countries.

Hands-on training remains an important part of veterinary learning and skills development.

In the UK, Improve International has bespoke training facilities in Sheffield and Swindon, and in 2022 will open new wet lab facilities in Europe, starting with Spain and Germany.

The company delivers courses directly across the UK, Europe and USA with licensee partners delivering training in Asia, Mexico, Cyprus and Australasia.

Improve International was founded in 1998 by vets and is still managed by vets, with its CEO, Heber Alves, responsible for leading the company through its expansion period and implementing the strategy for digitalisation and rapid growth.

In June last year, Improve International’s management was bought out by private equity firm RJD Partners, whose strategic debt adviser finnCap Group engaged Santander UK for the £5.5 million funding.

Chris Convey, chief financial officer at Improve International, said: “This refinancing is an important milestone for our business. Having a supportive and responsive partner like Santander UK is critical when working to tight timelines.

"The RCF facility is integral to our forward strategy and will provide the capital we require to deliver our growth plans.”

David French, director of growth capital, Santander UK, said: “As a high-growth business with a well-executed global strategy, Improve International is exactly the type of business that Santander UK is equipped to support.

"We’re pleased to provide this funding to support the company in expanding its online courses and wet labs and further growth overseas, drawing on the expertise of our international team.”

Alistair Hay, partner and head of finnCap Debt Advisory said: “It was a pleasure to work on the recapitalisation of Improve International.

"Amid strong interest from lenders, Santander UK’s offering proved the perfect fit in providing significant liquidity to shareholders alongside flexibility to deliver Improve International’s growth plan.”