Sir Tom Hunter poised to seal Canadian acquisition

Hunter's West Coast Capital is a major investor in eCommera. Picture: PA
Hunter's West Coast Capital is a major investor in eCommera. Picture: PA
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SIR Tom Hunter’s West Coast Capital is involved in a sizeable acquisition in Canada that is close to reaching agreement.

West Coast is an investor in eCommera, a fast-growing electronic commerce platform for the retail industry that has been in talks to buy a business in the same sector based in Toronto. Few details have emerged except that the price paid will be in the multiple millions.

West Coast and Sir Martin Sorrell’s WPP advertising giant are the main investors in eCommera, which has customers including Brooks Brothers, House of Fraser and Jaeger.

The company is based in London and was co-founded by Andrew McGregor, a Scot, and Michael Ross in 2007. It opened its first office in the United States in 2011.

McGregor worked in marketing and general management for more than 15 years and as marketing and strategy director at British Telecom. In the latest Deloitte Fast 50 listing, eCommera was placed 24th with 845 per cent revenue growth over five years.

Its latest accounts, for the year to 31 March, 2012, show pre-tax losses rose to £4.5 million from £2.2m a year earlier on sales of £17.8m, up from £12m.

E-commerce is a key sector for Hunter, who invested heavily in retail and property in the early 2000s but lost an estimated £250m in the crash. He is largely out of retail apart from retaining a stake in House of Fraser.

He also has investments in commercial property in Germany and Poland and has taken a stake in a joint venture in a firm building high-tech offices in India. At home, one of his main focuses is the Winchburgh new town development near Edinburgh.

Hunter remains an active advocate for entrepreneurialism and last week addressed the Engage, Invest, Exploit (EIE13) investor conference in the capital. He urged start-up companies to innovate and not be afraid of failure.

Speaking to Scotland on Sunday, he also revealed that the next Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) report, due out next month, will show progress in the creation of businesses.

The current statistics show Scotland producing around 36 businesses per 10,000 of population, a figure that has barely changed in ten years despite numerous programmes designed to encourage a more entrepreneurial culture.

“I think we will get some decent news in the next GEM report,” said Hunter.

He said that he was pleased to see the various business advice agencies working in collaboration and a Scottish Government that was supporting business.

The recent Entrepreneurial Exchange conference and the EIE event both had their biggest ever attendances.