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Staying Focused - Richard Smith

Staying Focused - Richard Smith


Richard Smith discusses the importance of maintaining focus on excellent patient care while expanding a dental business and his new appointment as Non-Executive Director at Rodericks.

With recent and foreseeable changes within the UK dental sector, it is crucial that dental care providers continue to evolve. The demand for excellent patient care and treatment remains high and indeed many will agree that it is intensifying with modern societal pressures and increased awareness among the public.

Alongside this requirement for clinical excellence and outstanding patient care, is the need to expand services and increase access to both NHS and private dental treatments across the nation. As such, leading dental providers have been developing their services and attempting to deliver the care and treatment needed in different areas of the country.

Someone that understands this need for growth and the processes involved is Richard Smith.

Richard has a huge wealth of experience and expertise in running and developing companies and groups within the dental and pharmaceutical sectors. He began his career at Unilever before spending 30 years working in a series of roles across customer service, multisite operations management, marketing, finance and operations, including a senior role at Somerfields Stores plc. Richard later became Managing Director of Lloyds Pharmacy in 2005 and then CEO of IDH in 2010. Richard is also the Chairman of Europe’s largest diagnostic and cancer care business, Affidea, and is therefore heavily involved in healthcare across Europe.

“Having previously developed a dental business over four years to become the largest in the world, as well as being actively involved in the expansion of a pharmaceutical chain company, I have a fair amount of experience regarding what happens when an organisation grows. With my responsibilities in previous roles including management of the financial, legal and technical aspects, I have also developed an extensive network in these areas.

“As with anything, you often learn the most when faced with situations where something has gone wrong. I have witnessed a variety of circumstances throughout my career in the dental, pharmacy and retail sectors, which have contributed to my understanding and knowledge of such projects. Even for companies that are very well run, some changes must still be made in order to ensure the new business structure is well supported.

“Despite growth plans, I believe it is very important for dental providers to remain true to their original ethos and values. Care for patients should always remain the top priority; it’s crucial to maintain this alongside increasing access and developing the business.”

This is a view share whole-heartedly with Rodericks, a leading dental group in the UK committed to providing excellent patient care and service and increasing access to NHS and private dentistry.

Richard recently joined Rodericks as a Non-Executive Director and he is looking forward to sharing his expertise in order to help drive the group forward.

“I initially met Shalin Mehra, Managing Director of Rodericks, when I co-founded the Association of Dental Groups and he became a member. A very down-to-earth and personable man, his passion for dentistry is evident and I quickly became impressed with his organisation. As a dentist running a dental group, he naturally brings dental excellence to the fore and I believe his group to be the best quality operation in the profession. When Shalin asked me to get involved I was delighted by the opportunity – I don’t think I would have gone anywhere else in dentistry.”

Concerning his new role with the dental group, Richard clearly has an abundance of experience and skills on which to draw.

“It is still early days for my involvement with the dental group, but my major focus with be on what we can bring to the growth plan of the business. As changes are implemented to facilitate growth, I hope to help make sure the transition is as easy and as effective as possible. Based on my previous experience, I hope to help the group avoid any potential pitfalls as it continues to expand with a key focus on excellent patient care.”

For Richard, a huge benefit of returning to dentistry is the opportunity to visit practices and meet the staff on the ground.

“I have really enjoyed visiting the practice and management teams – it’s probably the main element I really missed when I took a break from dentistry. It’s great to meet the team in-person and discuss any concerns or successes, and I am looking forward to doing this again.”

Looking to the future of dentistry, Richard comments:

“There is a definite move towards consolidation of the dental market, but approximately 85% remains independent. While I believe there will always be a place for the independent practices, I think there will be a growing place for corporates to introduce brands and collective ways of working in dentistry.

“What’s more, the future of dentistry might soon encompass other primary care. In various industries I have experienced diversifying from the core services provided, because there is the opportunity to provide more for patients within the existing setting.

“In my opinion, Rodericks’ clinical background will make it well-placed to capitalise on these prospects in the future. However the ownership looks in 20, 30 years time, the organisation could be the embryonic beginning of a very successful, major force in corporate NHS and private dentistry. Whatever happens, the group will be an incredibly good platform from which to successfully develop a model synonymous with the future dental sector.”


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