Ex-head veterinarian at CVS cites culture rift in resigning

After leaving UK company, Dr. John Innes co-founds specialist referral group

October 5, 2022 (published)
Photo courtesy of Dr. John Innes
Dr. John Innes stood down as chief veterinary officer of CVS Group in July.

CVS Group, one of the biggest owners of veterinary hospitals in the United Kingdom, has appointed a new chief veterinary officer after the doctor previously in the position resigned, citing differences over company culture.

Dr. John Innes confirmed to the VIN News Service that he left the company in July after becoming unhappy with elements of the management culture there. CVS has appointed Dr. Paul Higgs as its new CVO, the company told VIN News on Wednesday.

Based in Diss, England, CVS owns more than 500 veterinary practices and is listed on the London Stock Exchange.

The company declined to speak to the circumstances surrounding Innes' departure. In a written statement, it provided this comment from its chief operating officer, Dr. Ben Jacklin: "I'd like to thank Professor John Innes for his friendship, outstanding work and achievements at CVS. We wish him the best of luck in his new endeavours."

Innes is an honorary professor of veterinary surgery at the University of Liverpool and chair of the fellowship board of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, the U.K.'s chief regulator for the profession. Since leaving CVS, he's co-founded a specialist veterinary hospital company, Movement Referrals.

In an interview last week, Innes said he was concerned about "the culture and the attitude by a small minority of very senior executives to more junior colleagues" at CVS. Those managers, he said, had not always followed decisions that had been agreed to and recorded during meetings involving other managers.

"I had also been upset by seeing a very loyal, long-serving, practice-based colleague become the victim of what was, in my opinion, an unnecessary restructure based on financial metrics, in a year when the company had made record revenues and profits," Innes said.

CVS last month released annual financial figures showing that its revenue for the 12 months ending June 30 had risen 8.6% to £554.2 million (USD$626.4 million), and its net profit had risen 8.8% to £36.0 million (US$40.7 million).

"I'm pleased that we have delivered a strong set of results, with good growth against all of our key financial metrics despite a challenging macroeconomic backdrop," CVS's chief executive, Richard Fairman, said at the time.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Paul Higgs
Dr. Paul Higgs has been appointed as CVS's new CVO.

Higgs, the company's new CVO, was previously clinical director of CVS's Highcroft Referrals Hospital in Bristol, England. He also is chair of the Congress Programme Committee at the British Small Animal Veterinary Association.

IVC Evidensia appoints new CEO

In another senior personnel move at a large British veterinary company, IVC Evidensia announced on Wednesday that it has promoted Simon Smith to the role of CEO.

Smith, formerly a managing director at the company, had been serving as CEO on an acting basis while outgoing chief Steve Clarke was on compassionate leave.

"Steve has now made the difficult decision to step down from the CEO role to fully focus on his family during an ongoing challenging period," IVC Evidensia said, without elaborating on the nature of those challenges. "He leaves the business with heartfelt thanks for all he has done, and with our thoughts and best wishes for the future."

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