North East specialist clinic Queensway Orthodontics has opened three new locations in the region, doubled its headcount and expanded its online offer after securing a six-figure funding package from banking partner Lloyds Bank.
The firm, founded in 2008 and with existing practices in Billingham and Jesmond, offers a full range of both NHS and private orthodontic treatments for children and adults. Its dentists are amongst the UK’s most experienced providers of Invisalign, the popular removable clear aligner system.
The finance package from Lloyds Bank, worth £675,000 and comprised of a blend of asset finance and a commercial loan, has helped the business invest in the fit-out of its three new clinics in Consett, Bishop Auckland and Darlington with specialist dental equipment, including 3d-digital scanners and x-ray machines. It has also supported the recruitment of more than 30 staff across its new premises, taking total headcount to 69.
Originally set to launch in April to accommodate growing customer demand, the Covid-19 lockdown delayed the physical opening of the new practices until July. But Queensway used this time to ramp up its digital offer, such as virtual consultations and artificial intelligence-driven treatment monitoring for Invisalign patients, to minimise face-to-face appointment time to protect patient and staff safety.
The group now offers 30 per cent of its appointments digitally, and over the next year will be trialling the introduction of further virtual services, including fixed brace check-up as the trend for convenient digital services continues.
This expansion follows a decade of strong growth for Queensway, which has seen turnover grow by 450%, with patient numbers increasing by 400% over the same period before the addition of the new sites.
Queensway has also launched a new online store, BraceBrushes.co.uk, to offer customers across the UK orthodontic and oral health supplies. The team is now focusing on expanding its eco-friendly range of products, championing the reduction of plastic waste in dentistry.
Gavin Bennett, managing director at Queensway Orthodontics, said: “The last few months have been a gamechanger for us, not just for our physical expansion, but the acceleration of our digital offering to help provide access to dental treatments throughout lockdown.
“The team at Lloyds Bank has been incredibly supportive, providing us with the flexibility to push back the opening of our new practices and focus on maintaining an outstanding service for our patients. Our online consultation platform, Smile Mate, has helped us reach more than 500 new customers, as well as maintain routine care for our existing clients.
“We have plenty of exciting plans in the pipeline to not only continue our recruitment drive to welcome more dental nurses to our practices, but also to continue to invest in the business’ digital transformation.”
Stuart Harper, healthcare relationship director at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “We have worked with Queensway for almost a decade, and have witnessed the business go from strength to strength. By continually finding new ways to innovate and adapt to change, it has met the challenges posed by Covid-19 head on and helped more patients maintain access to high-quality dental and orthodontic treatment.
“Investing in local businesses like Queensway is at the heart of our commitment to helping Britain prosper, supporting the creation of new jobs and ultimately helping to boost the growth of the North East economy.”