Schein Animal Health, Vets First Choice to complete merger

New company claims a large footprint

Published: February 04, 2019
By Lisa Wogan; Edie Lau

Henry Schein Animal Health almost is no more, nearly nine months after Henry Schein Inc. announced the spinoff of its veterinary division and merger with Vets First Choice. The product of the merger, named Covetrus, was formally incorporated today. Shares in the publicly traded company will be issued later this week. 

Combining a nearly 90-year-old distributor of veterinary clinic supplies and, more recently, practice management software; with a 9-year-old online veterinary pharmacy, prescription management and data analytics business gives the new company enormous reach.

According to information posted today by Covetrus, the new entity reaches 90 percent of U.S. veterinary practices, with approximately 20,000 clinics using practice information management software previously owned by Henry Schein Animal Health, and approximately 7,500 clinic customers of what used to be Vets First Choice.

The two companies claim $4 billion in combined sales in 2018.

Covetrus is headquartered in Portland, Maine, in the same location as Vets First Choice. It plans to build a new facility about a half-mile away. At the helm is Ben Shaw, former Vets First Choice CEO. His father, David Shaw, founder of Idexx Laboratories, one of the two largest veterinary diagnostic laboratories in the country, is chair of Covetrus’s board.

Through Covetrus, Vets First Choice has combined forces with a business that has a long past and a highly active present. Started as a pharmacy in New York 86 years ago, Henry Schein Inc. in recent decades has expanded aggressively around the globe. A distributor of health-care products and vendor of multiple software programs for practice management, Schein, before the merger, said its customers included 75 percent of veterinarians in the U.S. and 70 percent of veterinarians in Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

The following highlights Schein's business activities in animal health over the years.


Spins off Henry Schein Animal Health and merges it with Vets First Choice, creating Covetrus
Acquires majority ownership of ABASE, distributor in Brazil
  • Acquires U.S. distributor Merritt Veterinary Supplies
  • Acquires eVetPractice practice management system
  • With CareCredit, integrates patient financing in its practice management software
  • Invests in Tecnew, distributor in Brazil
  • Acquires majority ownership of Vetstreet, which sells marketing and client-communications services to clinics
  • Acquires RxWorks, practice management software use in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the Netherlands and elsewhere
  • Acquires scil animal care, distributor of diagnostic products, with locations in Europe, North America and Malaysia
  • Acquires 50 percent ownership of Maravet, distributor in Romania
  • Acquires majority ownership of SmartPak, a vendor of equine supplements and supplies
  • Acquires majority ownership of Medivet, distributor in Poland
Butler Schein Animal Health renamed Henry Schein Animal Health
  • Acquires C&M Vetlink, distributor in Ireland
  • Acquires Veterinary Instrumentation, supplier of surgical instruments and implants in the U.K.
  • Acquires practice management software companies ImproMed and McAllister Software Systems, creator of AVImark
  • Acquires Provet Holdings Ltd., distributor in Australasia
Merges with Butler Animal Health to form Butler Schein Animal Health
Acquires Noviko, distributor in the Czech Republic
Acquires Animal Health Company in the U.K.
Acquires distributor NLS Animal Health
Lists on NASDAQ
Enters practice management software business, introducing a program for dentists
Stanley Bergman becomes chairman and CEO
Shifts focus from consumers to office-based practitioners
Introduces private-brand dental, medical and veterinary products
Begins fulfilling mail-order prescriptions
Originates as a storefront pharmacy in Queens, N.Y., opened by Henry and Esther Schein

Correction: The headline and first sentence of this story originally reported that the Schein, Vets First Choice merger was complete on Monday. According to Vets First Choice, the merger is on track to be completed later this week, likely Thursday.

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