Sir Tom ‘optimistic’ about creating £100m company
Sir Tom Hunter says he is optimistic that his scale-up programme will deliver on its ambitious target to create a £100 million turnover company within five years.
The entrepreneur and investor launched ScaleupScotland2.0 alongside the Scottish National Investment Bank in September last year with 12 participant companies. The second cohort is now being signed up.
“It is a tough target but we have to be ambitious,” said Sir Tom. Asked if the target was too ambitious, he replied: “I don’t think so. There are a couple of contenders and I think we are going to be pleasantly surprised. I am optimistic.”
Those taking part must be headquartered in Scotland with current revenues typically in excess of £20m, with a record of strong year-on-year growth.
Among those supporting them are former Dragons’ Den panelist Theo Paphitis, Scottish businessman Lord Haughey and Calum Smeaton who built and exited TV Squared in a $160m deal.
The Ayrshire businessman was speaking ahead of the release of the latest accounts from West Coast Capital company, the investment arm of the Hunter family.
“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,” he said.
The strategy is to invest in “exceptional founders”, he said, and since the year-end it has backed Michelle and Gerald, founders of financial data firm Fintern, and provided further support to Professor Sir Christopher Evans’ Ellipses Pharma company which is behind disruptive cancer research.
It has also continued to invest in the Buzzworks hospitality business and the Winchburgh new town alongside joint venture partner, Cala Group.
“As part of that investment we delivered Junction 1b on the M9 at a cost of over £20m 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.”
Sir Tom said his investment into THG, the Manchester-based ecommerce business, had proved profitable despite the company’s well-documented setbacks.
He was a strong backer of its founder Matt Moulding who addressed the recent scale-up conference at Gleneagles.
Shares in the company were priced at 500p when it floated in September 2020 and surged by more than 60% in the first few months. Sir Tom sold a tranche of shares at the IPO and other stock at 747p. They currently trade at about 85p.
He said: “He has built the biggest nutrition brand from nothing and the world’s number three beauty platform. I think that is a brilliant success. The only thing that has not grown is the share price.”