Bayfields steps closer to 2021 growth aims

The group has completed three new acquisitions, supporting its aims of having 30 practices by the end of 2021. OT  finds out more about the plans for growth

Royston Bayfield
Bayfields Opticians and Audiologists has expanded with the completion of three acquisitions in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire and South Woodford, London.

The group suggests the acquisitions build towards its ambition of more than doubling in size by 2023.

With the latest acquisitions, Bayfields has grown its number of practices to 22, which it says is in line with its aims of reaching 30 practices by the end of 2021, and 40 by 2023.

Speaking to OT, Royston Bayfield, founder and CEO of Bayfields, shared: “For a number of years, we’ve expanded fairly rapidly. We decided in 2019 to push on with that acquisition strategy and build the brand and we’re very much on track with that plan.”

Through the acquisitions, Darryl Taylor Optometrists and Samantha Parker Opticians in Knaresborough will be merged. Darryl Taylor is to retire from his role and the clients will move across to the combined business. Samantha Parker has also made the decision to return to an optometrist position.

The group has also acquired E Aves Opticians in South Woodford. The owner will be retiring and the team will remain in place.

Bayfields will introduce audiology as a service at each of the practices and both will be rebranded.

Welcoming the practices into the business, Mr Bayfield said: “Each practice closely aligns with our overall aim to be an integral part of the local community – taking the time to understand every client’s personal and family circumstances, which is reflected in the importance we place on our client journey.”

He added: “We intend to harness the trust and brand recognition that each practice has worked hard to build up, while adding additional services and expanding the team, where we see fit.”

Speaking to OT about the impact of COVID-19 on the business’s plans for growth, Mr Bayfield explained: “We went into the first lockdown in March 2020 with a number of acquisitions at heads of terms stage. Like the rest of the world, we were hit by the first lockdown and, initially, couldn’t see a clear pathway out of it.”

“We worked together with the people we were purchasing from and agreed that we would go back to them as soon as we had more certainty – and we did just that,” he added.

The business has learnt to adapt in the COVID-19 environment, Mr Bayfield added and is confident about its growth. He acknowledged, however, that “Despite having a clearer roadmap from the Government on how we are going to get out of the COVID-19 pandemic, the reality is that we are still in a world of uncertainty.”

One of the biggest challenges in growing the acquisition process has been the inability to meet with people.

“It’s all about hearts and minds and if you’re not in the same room as people, it’s very difficult to understand the practice you’re looking to buy,” Mr Bayfield added.

The business is “comfortable” with its aim of reaching 30 practices by the end of the year, Mr Bayfield told OT. “We’ve got a great team, we understand what we’re trying to achieve, in terms of acquiring practices, and we’ve got the funding in place, so I’m confident that we can push on.”

Last year, Bayfields gained a new investor in BGF, with the investment expected to support the business’ growth aims.

Chris Boyes, an investor at BGF, described the potential for growth in the market as “significant,” adding, “Bayfields has all the attributes to seize that opportunity and achieve its ambition to double in size by 2023.”