David Ormerod Hearing Centres

Origins

The business was founded in 1961 by David Ormerod and, through the 1990s, expanded from a small regional presence to a forty centre operation across the UK. One of the challenges at that time was hearing care businesses had traditionally been run on a domiciliary basis and David Ormerod Hearing Centres led the way by introducing High Street and hospital based centres. The introduction of digital technology in 1996, along with the close links the management team forged with the NHS, gave the Company a leading edge in the UK market. In 2003, the company acquired Boots Hearingcare, which took the business to over 100 centres overnight and a national presence across the UK. At the same time, it was successful in its bid to secure the NHS Public Private Partnership Contract via a competitive tender, which was the first and largest of its kind in UK Audiology. As one of two companies, ,it was tasked with fitting up to 40,000 patients with digital hearing aids over a two year period. The integration of the much larger business along with the NHS PPP contract brought many challenges, not least of which was the huge increase in the central administrative team which meant a move to larger office premises. In addition, the development and roll out of a new IT system to link all the centres and Head Office across the UK were all carried out in the space of 18 months.

Success Factor

There are various reasons as to how the business has grasped and maximised opportunities in order to fuel the impressive record of growth and success. One of the key factors is the professional and ethical way in which the company has always conducted its sales and managed its customer service, resulting in endorsement and commercial recognition from organisations such as the NHS and Boots plc. This has enabled these organisations to comfortably enter into joint commercial ventures with David Ormerod Hearing Centres. The company’s decision to embrace new technology has also given it a competitive edge in the market, not only in terms of the product it sells (ie. the introduction of digital hearing aids to its product offering as early as 1996), but also in the technology it utilises to support the business. Finally, the business has benefited from the management team’s ability to react quickly to market forces and the challenges that inevitably arise in a fast moving and competitive professional/retail environment for a service that is also offered by the NHS.

The Future

Currently the third largest hearing aid provider in the UK, the company plans to challenge and reach the number two slot over the next two. years. Sustainable and considered expansion will be supported by ongoing improvement to the customer journey along with the accessibility to new technology. Therefore, the management in David Ormerod Hearing Centres will ensure it is well placed to respond to and take advantage of, improvements in technology and any changes in the hearing aid provision in the UK.