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Q & M Dental Group:
To be the biggest in China, then the world

Q & M Dental Group: To be the biggest in China, then the world

Q&M is Singapore's largest private dental service provider, with about 60 branches. It aspires to be the largest dental group in China and, in the longer run, the world. The company has 180 dentists in Singapore and 120 dentists in China and Malaysia, as well as 670 dental surgery assistants and support staff members in Singapore and abroad.

SINGAPORE'S largest private dental service provider, Q&M Dental Group, made a big push into China recently.

Earlier this year, it added three new dental hospitals, two dental centres and a training institute in Shenyang and Hulu Dao in Liao-ning province.

This is in addition to the current seven clinics that the group has in China - in Beijing, Nanjing and Shanghai.

The Shenyang Aoxin Q&M Stomatology Hospital and its branch hospitals and clinics in Shenyang and Hulu Dao are the result of a 108 million yuan (S$23 million) acquisition and joint venture with its China counterpart, Aoxin Stomatology Hospital.

The recent developments are part of Q&M's internationalisation plans to achieve greater growth opportunities in the global arena.

Q&M is already No.1 in Singapore, with about 60 branches here. However, it aspires to be the largest dental group in China and, in the longer run, the world, says Dr Ng Chin Siau, 46, group chief executive officer of Q&M.

"The market in China is astronomical. Shenyang, the city where the new dental hospitals and clinics are, has over eight million residents."

"This is not counting the surrounding cities within 100km of it. Looking at this scale alone, there is a lot of potential for us to grow into a bigger entity and be a bigger player," says Dr Ng.

The large market size and growing middle class in China are what attracted Q&M there.

Q&M, which became a public listed company in Singapore in 2009, recognised the potential of the Chinese market and started exploring it in 2007.

Its first establishment there was in 2010, when it acquired three established private dental practices which eventually spawned three clinics in Beijing, three in Nanjing and one in Shanghai, making it a total of seven.

The start in China was not an easy one for Q&M. It was unaware that the biggest patient base - about 90 per cent of the market - used medical facilities only at places where they could benefit from the country's national medical insurance schemes.

Q&M acquired some facilities at which patients could not enjoy state insurance benefits.

"It took us a long time to understand the Chinese market, but now we are going to capture more patients by acquiring only dental hospitals with state insurance benefits.

"It would be a magnet for patients as they seek treatment and help from the hospitals," says Dr Ng.

"The market in China is astronomical. Shenyang, the city where the new dental hospitals and clinics are, has over eight million residents."

International Enterprise (IE) Singapore, which has been helping Q&M since 2010, introduced it to potential partners through business missions and platforms, such as the Singapore-Liaoning Economic and Trade Council.

IE also helped in the recent acquisition of Shenyang Aoxin Q&M Stomatology Hospital's chain of hospitals and clinics. Under the Global Company Partnership (GCP) programme, IE provided some funding support and identified potential projects. It also connected Q&M with possible joint-venture partners.

Q&M was inducted to be a member of the Singapore-Liaoning Economic and Trade Council as well. This was very helpful for the company as Q&M's representatives were able to interact with top Chinese officials and hence carry out tasks quickly.

In 2011, Q&M established a presence in Malaysia by acquiring one clinic each in Johor Baru and Kuala Lumpur.

Seven other clinics - three in Johor Baru, one in Malacca and three in Selangor - were built from scratch.

Dr Ng notes that although Malaysia is closer to Singapore than China, expansion took place there later because the country did not have enough dentists to support the expansion.

However, Malaysia, which has a population of 30 million people, has great potential because the dentist-to-population ratio is about one dentist to 6,000 people.

It is a market to be reckoned with and Q&M intends to continue its expansion efforts there, says Dr Ng.

Q&M is also growing in Singapore. It has been opening an average of five clinics a year since 2009 to support population growth, says Dr Ng.

Singapore's dentist-to-population ratio stands at one dentist to 2,960 people.

To lower costs, Q&M has acquired a dental materials manufacturing company in Qin Huang Dao, China, and a dental equipment and supplies distribution company in Kuala Lumpur.

According to its financial statement for the quarter that ended in June this year, Q&M's revenue from its dental and medical clinics increased to $18.4 million from $15.7 million - a 17 per cent rise from the previous corresponding quarter last year.

Its dental equipment and supplies arm's revenue increased to $1.9 million from $200,000 from the same time last year.

The company has 180 dentists in Singapore and 120 dentists in China and Malaysia.

It has 670 dental surgery assistants and support staff members in Singapore and abroad.



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