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CEO Vincent Bradley announced his resignation in an undated letter to veterinarians employed with Banfield's chain of practices. "Change is good," he said. "It can be hard, but it can also lead to great things and new perspectives."
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Today marked Vincent Bradley's final afternoon at the helm of Banfield Pet Hospital. Brian Garish, senior vice president and chief operating officer, will replace him.
Bradley, CEO of Banfield since 2015, announced his resignation in an undated letter received last week by employees. His decision to leave the nation's largest chain of veterinary practices comes on the heels of a Jan. 9 announcement that Mars Inc., Banfield's parent company, plans to purchase rival VCA Inc.
The $7.7 billion deal — $9.1 billion, minus $1.4 billion in VCA debt — widely is considered to be the largest acquisition in the veterinary profession's history. VCA will operate as its own business within Mars Petcare, according to a news release.
The union of the two chains under Mars has sent shock waves across the veterinary landscape, fueling concerns that corporate medicine could push out independent private practices, as has happened in human medicine.
While Bradley did not mention VCA in his letter, he alluded to changes within the company as the impetus for his departure.
"My position is evolving and after a number of conversations with Larry, I have come to the hard decision that staying at Banfield no longer aligns with my career goals and aspirations, so I will be leaving Banfield and Mars at the end of January," he said.
Bradley, who could not be reached, presumably is referring to Larry Allgaier, president of Mars Petcare North America. Describing 2017 as a "hugely transformational year," Allgaier addressed the leadership change in his own letter to Banfield veterinarians.
He applauded Bradley's role in the company's success: "During his time at Banfield ... the practice (chain) doubled in size, grew from twelve to sixteen thousand associates and increased Banfield's care to over eight million pet visits per year.
"... Overall turnover for doctors and the practice have returned to historic lows," Allgaier wrote.
Bradley was a newcomer to animal health and the veterinary profession when he joined Banfield in 2011 as senior vice president of operations. He previously had been an executive and divisional vice president for Take Care Health Systems Employer Solutions Group, a subsidiary of Walgreens.
Garish's professional background is in human health care, where he spent more than 20 years before joining Banfield in 2015. He most recently worked as an area vice president at CVS Caremark.
Privately owned, Mars does not file public records about earnings or corporate strategy. In 2016, the Mars family ranked No. 3 on Forbes' list of America's Richest Families, with a net worth of $78 billion. Grant Reed is the company's president and CEO. Forbes described Mars, best known as a maker of candy and chewing gum, as "one of the world's largest and most secretive" companies, with an estimated $33 billion in annual sales.
Mars has become a major player in animal health in recent years, acquiring pet-food brands such as Eukanuba and Iams in addition to veterinary hospitals.
Mars began investing in Banfield in 1994, eventually taking majority ownership of the company. The purchase of VCA will add roughly 800 hospitals to Mars' network of practices, which includes more than 900 clinics, most of which operate under the Banfield name. Mars also owns Blue Pearl, a chain of specialty and emergency hospitals.
In addition to veterinary practices, Mars' purchase of VCA comes with Antech Diagnostics, one of the biggest diagnostic laboratories in the country. VCA's financial ties to VetSource, a pharmaceutical distributor, and its minority ownership of Vetstreet.com, a provider of online marketing and client-communication services for veterinary practices, also will transfer to Mars per the agreement.
The Mars-VCA deal isn't expected to close until the third quarter of 2017. While the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has not confirmed its review, antitrust oversight is anticipated.