Faith in entrepreneur
Hunter ‘committed’ to THG despite stock plunge
Sir Tom Hunter said his West Coast Capital investments company remains committed to The Hut Group (THG), the ecommerce business, despite the firm’s troubled stock market experience.
Sir Tom was an early investor in Manchester-based THG which is behind a number of beauty and nutrition businesses, but its shares tumbled after its high profile IPO in September 2020 when it was valued at £5.4bn. It is currently worth £764m.
Shares soared close to 800p in January 2021, but were trading this morning at 53.7p (closed at 49.97p).
Its value fell as questions arose over its technology division. It warned in September that full-year losses for 2022 would be worse than expected.
The firm is headed by Sir Tom’s friend Matt Moulding whom he had previously described as the “best entrepreneur disruptor I have come across”.
West Coast offloaded some of the 3.4% stake it acquired in THG soon after it became the UK’s largest technology IPO. It now holds 1.36% of the company.
In comments following the release of West Coast’s accounts, Sir Tom said: “We remain committed to THG plc and would reiterate our absolute faith in Matt Moulding and his team.”
Sir Tom said progress was being made at the Winchburgh new town near Edinburgh. West Coast also invested in Buzzworks, the Scottish hospitality business.
During the year West Coast disposed of its holding in TVSquared, the Edinburgh-based tech firm which helps businesses measure returns from TV advertising.
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, Sir Tom joined the Scottish National Investment Bank in an initiative to increase the number of scale-up businesses in Scotland.
ScaleupScotland2.0 is aimed at businesses with the potential to achieve turnover in excess of £100m.
Sir Tom echoed widely-held views that the rent freeze imposed by the Scottish government will have “unintended consequences” by exacerbating the shortage of homes across Scotland.
“In the longer run it makes things worse because if there is less supply coming into the market and more demand … prices skyrocket,” he said. “There needs to be long-term thinking here and not just one-sided thinking.”