Sir Tom Hunter says West Coast Capital in 'very positive position' after busy year of investing

Activity has included backing for a major West Lothian project providing thousands of new homes.

Sir Tom Hunter has hailed “another year of solid progress” at his business empire as it continues to back a diverse line-up of companies, including a fast-growing Scottish restaurant operator and a cancer treatment specialist.

Releasing accounts for his West Coast Capital (WCC) investment business, the Ayrshire-born entrepreneur and philanthropist highlighted a string of firms that he has provided backing for. These include hospitality operator Buzzworks, which added 80 members of staff with the opening of its Scotts venue in Greenock, taking the group’s employee numbers to 800 and its portfolio to 21 restaurants. That line-up also includes the likes of Thirty Knots, The Bridge Inn, The Fox and Herringbone.

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Hunter said: “Another exceptional founder we backed during the year was professor Sir Christopher Evans who I’ve known for almost 30 years. We made a multi-million-pound investment in his business, Ellipses Pharma, a disruptive cancer discovery drug business that enables more than 200 of the world’s leading professors and experts to help find the best solutions in oncology. We are very proud to back Chris and his exceptional team.”

Ayrshire-born entrepreneur and philanthropist Sir Tom Hunter is one of Scotland's best known business figures.Ayrshire-born entrepreneur and philanthropist Sir Tom Hunter is one of Scotland's best known business figures.
Ayrshire-born entrepreneur and philanthropist Sir Tom Hunter is one of Scotland's best known business figures.

Hunter also pointed to WCC’s backing for the founders of Fintern, a financial technology business that is said to go beyond credit scoring by applying bank data to build AI-based risk and lending profiles.

At Winchburgh in West Lothian, West Coast continued to invest alongside joint venture partner Cala Group in a major housing development, where it is helping to deliver thousands of new homes. Hunter said: “As part of that investment we delivered junction 1b on the M9 at a cost of over £20 million and no public sector funding, alongside that two new secondary schools and one new primary school. Our forward sales of land to house builders is strong for 2024.”

The WCC founder added: “This was another year of solid progress for West Coast Capital and with no external debt and strong cash balances we are in a very positive position moving forward.”

The accounts cover the balance sheets for West Coast Capital Holdings, WCC Assets and WCC Investments. None of them include a copy of the profit and loss figures.

In October, The Hunter Foundation (THF), in partnership with the Scottish National Investment Bank (SNIB), opened applications for the ScaleupScotland2.0 initiative. The aim is to create more £100m-plus native firms, with the potential for £1 billion-plus “unicorns”. Participant companies must be headquartered in Scotland with current revenues typically in excess of £20m and a record of strong year-on-year growth, with the Scaleup programme looking to help them turn over at least £100m within five years.

Hunter established “venture philanthropy” focused THF in 1998 in the wake of selling his Sports Division retail business for some £290m.

ScaleupScotland2.0 aims to tackle what it sees as a lack of strategic support available to high-growth businesses. This year’s cohort was supported and inspired by a range of entrepreneurial experts that Hunter has met over the course of his career, people “who've inspired me and I want to give these entrepreneurs a chance to meet them and hopefully get the same inspiration that I got from them”.



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