Sir Tom Hunter hails 'very positive position' at West Coast business empire
The Ayrshire-born entrepreneur and philanthropist highlighted a series of investments including backing for a major housing development in West Lothian. He said: “With our joint venture partner Cala we’ve made decent progress at Winchburgh helping to deliver three new schools, a 75-acre community park, good progress on our marina and of course six housebuilders on site. Whilst the market is challenging at present our structure there has no debt hence we will invest in more infrastructure to deliver oven-ready land for when the market inevitably picks up.”
Hunter made the comments as annual accounts were released for his West Coast Capital (WCC) business empire, encompassing WCC Holdings and WCC Assets. During the year to the end of March, West Coast also co-invested in Buzzworks, the Scottish hospitality business that recently opened its latest venue, Thirty Knots, overlooking the River Forth at South Queensferry.
Hunter said: “We were delighted to co-invest alongside the Blair family in Buzzworks taking a significant position there to support their growth. Indeed since investing in one of Scotland’s leading hospitality businesses they have added 100 jobs and now have some 725 employees.”
During the year West Coast disposed of its holding in TVSquared after the Edinburgh-based tech firm, which helps businesses measure returns from TV advertising, was snapped up by US-based Innovid in a deal worth about $160 million (£120m). Hunter said: “Calum Smeaton, the founder [of TVSquared] deserves huge credit for building a successful global tech business from here in Scotland.”
Hunter also said West Coast “remain committed” to The Hut Group (THG), which is behind a number of beauty and e-commerce businesses, but has suffered a rollercoaster share price ride and faced pressure on its cashflow. Through his investment vehicle, Hunter has been a significant long-term investor in THG, which is headed by Matt Moulding. “We remain committed to THG plc and would reiterate our absolute faith in Matt Moulding and his team,” Hunter noted.
He added: “West Coast Capital and the Hunter family are incredibly proud to note that since inception we have donated £148m to our philanthropy, The Hunter Foundation.”
In August, Hunter emerged as one of the high-profile entrepreneurs behind an initiative to increase the number of scale-up businesses in Scotland and boost the nation’s prosperity. ScaleupScotland2.0 will provide strategic support to high growth, scaling companies. Aimed at businesses with the potential to achieve turnover in excess of £100m, the programme aims to raise ambition and support the development of high growth businesses as they scale up.
Alongside advice and mentoring from some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs and business leaders, including Sir Tom, Lord Haughey and Dragons’ Den star Theo Paphitis, participants will also receive strategic consultancy support. This will initially provide a “deep dive” into each business to identify and align the team on the specific challenges and opportunities facing the entrepreneurial leader, the collective executive team and the individual functional leaders.
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