Tom Hunter

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Sir Thomas Blane Hunter
Born (1961-05-06) 6 May 1961 (age 62)
New Cumnock, Ayrshire, Scotland
Alma mater University of Strathclyde
Occupation(s)Property and sports goods

Sir Thomas Blane Hunter (born 6 May 1961) is a Scottish businessman, [1] entrepreneur, and philanthropist.


Sports Division

Tom set up his first business after graduating from the University of Strathclyde as he was, in his own words, "unemployable". With a £5,000 loan from his grocer father Campbell and matching funds from a bank, he started selling trainers from the back of a van. Hunter built the business into Europe's largest independent retailer. In 1998 in an unsolicited offer, Dave Whelan's JJB Sports offered to buy the larger Sports Division for £290 million; Hunter accepted, earning himself £252 million.[ citation needed ]

Other business activities

Hunter had expanded Sports Division through financing supplied by the Royal Bank of Scotland, but when he proposed the takeover of Olympus Sports, RBS refused to finance the deal. Through his friend Sir David Murray, he met Halifax Bank of Scotland governor Gavin Masterton on a trip to watch Rangers F.C. play Juventus, and subsequently built his business on the HBoS relationship. [2]

Senior lending manager Peter Cummings introduced Hunter to property development, which resulted in his purchase of stakes in builder Crest Nicholson, and retirement homebuilder McCarthy & Stone. In 2001 Cummings introduced Hunter to fellow HBoS client Nick Leslau, which led to the purchase of stakes via Leslau's Prestbury Investment Holdings in the freehold property portfolios of Travelodge hotels, licensed premises; and the theme park portfolio of Merlin Entertainments, including Alton Towers. [3]

In August 2013, Hunter put up a huge cash loan that enabled his friend David Moulsdale, founder of Optical Express eye surgery clinics, to save his company from closure after the Royal Bank of Scotland threatened to seize control. [4]

In September 2020, Hunter sold £52 million of shares in The Hut Group when the business joined the stock market. He subsequently sold a further £31 million in January 2021. He retains a stake worth £105 million. [5]

West Coast Capital

In March 2001, Hunter was a founding partner of West Coast Capital, the private equity arm of the Hunter Family. Through this firm he has become a major shareholder in a number of retailers – including USC, Office, D2, Qube; and 8% of British Home Stores (BHS), with the bulk owned by Sir Philip Green, subsequently disposing of them all. His other investments included Wyevale Garden Centres. [6] [2]

At its height, West Coast investments covered over 50 companies, and Hunter was touted as a possible bidder for Selfridges – he lost out to Galen Weston. [7] However, in light of the Financial crisis of 2007–2008 he sold his stake in Dobbies Garden Centres to partner Tesco, lost his entire holding in Crest Nicholson; and a majority of his stakes in McCarthy & Stone and Wyevale Garden Centres. [8]

West Coast Capital now holds a number of major investments in property, e-commerce and data analytics including a large stake in listed Secure Income Reit Plc, majority control of the £1 billion Winchburgh Village development and a substantial stake in Order Dynamics. West Coast Capital directly funds, alongside the Hunter Family, venture philanthropy, The Hunter Foundation.

One of the investments the company holds is a 3.37% stake in the Hut Group, which was worth £151.6 million when the company listed on the London Stock Exchange in September 2020. [9]


Advised to move to Monaco after the sale of Sports Division, Hunter wanted to raise his family in his homeland. He came to the realisation that making money was, as he told Andrew Marr in a 2005 BBC interview, "only half of the equation", [10] and also from the inspiration of his acknowledged hero Andrew Carnegie, in particular Carnegie's book The Gospel of Wealth and Carnegie's sentiment that "a man who dies rich, dies disgraced". [11] [12] Hunter and his wife Marion, Lady Hunter, subsequently established The Hunter Foundation in 1998 with a £10 million cheque as a tax management vehicle. [13] After discussions with Vartan Gregorian, head of the Carnegie Foundation in New York City, [11] Hunter set a cause and a method which has resulted in the foundation donating in excess of £50m to supporting educational and entrepreneurial projects in Scotland and sustainable development in sub-Saharan Africa in partnership with former President Bill Clinton through the Clinton Hunter Development Initiative.

In 2001, Hunter was interviewed for the STV programme Rich, Gifted and Scots discussing his wealth, influences and philanthropy. [14] Hunter coined the term "venture philanthropy" – using his investment pledges to leverage more cash from others to invest with him and becoming involved in the strategic delivery of the initiatives he backed. This ensured he could make a bigger impact with his money. [2]

His donations and beneficial projects have included:

Scotland's former first minister, Jack McConnell, has said of Hunter: [10]

His philanthropic work and the creative way that he has thrown himself into that have been one of the most significant drivers for change in Scotland in the last decade. The work his foundation does is all about being a catalyst for change, not a substitute and not a general giveaway but a genuine approach to change the way things are done.

In October 2013, Hunter was awarded the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy. Described by some as the "Nobel Prize for philanthropy", the medal recognises those who use their private wealth for public good and is awarded biannually to global figures leading the way in this field. [19] He dedicated the award to his father, who he describes as his "hero and inspiration". He also donated over £1,000,000 to children in need in 2018. [20]

Scottish Referendum

In August 2014, Hunter unveiled the website dedicated to providing impartial sources of information related to the Scottish Independence referendum. The site focused on 16 questions central to the referendum debate.[ citation needed ]


In 1997, he was awarded Alumnus of the Year by the University of Strathclyde. [21]

In 2005 he received a knighthood for "services to Philanthropy and to Entrepreneurship in Scotland". [22]

In 2013 he was awarded the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy.

Personal life

Hunter and his wife Marion, Lady Hunter, have three adult children.

In 2001, Hunter is reputed to have spent £1m on his 40th birthday party, at which Stevie Wonder performed. [12] The party was held at his home in Cap Ferrat, on the Côte d'Azur, which he sold to a Russian business for reputedly £55m in late 2007. [23]

In April 2007, Hunter was reported in the Sunday Times Rich List as the first ever home-grown billionaire in Scotland, with an estimated wealth of £1.05 billion. [6] Due to the financial crisis of 2007–2010 slicing an estimated £250 million from his fortune, Hunter was overtaken as Scotland's richest man in late 2007 by Jim McColl, head of Glasgow engineering firm Clyde Blowers, who has an estimated fortune of £800 million. [23] According to the Sunday Times Rich List in 2021, Hunter is now worth £729 million. [5]

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  1. "List of companies related to Thomas Blane Hunter". Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 Davey, Jenny (4 January 2009). "The Humbling of Tom Hunter – Page4". The Times. London. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
  3. Kemp, Kenny (10 February 2002). "How the Westway was won by tycoon". Sunday Herald. Retrieved 26 August 2008.
  4. Marlow, Ben (4 August 2013). "Hunter's secret role in rescue" via
  5. 1 2 Times, The Sunday. "Sir Tom Hunter net worth — Sunday Times Rich List 2021". The Times . ISSN   0140-0460 . Retrieved 8 October 2021.
  6. 1 2 "billionaire Hunter tops rich list". BBC News. 28 April 2007. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
  7. Davey, Jenny (4 January 2009). "The Humbling of Tom Hunter – Page4". The Times. London. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
  8. Power, Helen (17 December 2008). "Sir Tom Hunter to lose part of Wyevale stake". The Times. London. Retrieved 26 August 2008.
  9. Editor, Ashley Armstrong, Retail. "Retail veterans stand to make millions from Hut Group flotation". The Times . ISSN   0140-0460 . Retrieved 22 September 2020.{{cite news}}: |last= has generic name (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  10. 1 2 Scott, Kirsty (2 January 2009). "Profile: Sir Tom Hunter". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
  11. 1 2 "Profile on Sir Tom Hunter". Archived from the original on 10 February 2013. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
  12. 1 2 "Tom Hunter: Meet Britain's most generous tycoon – Profiles – People". The Independent. London. 17 July 2006. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
  13. "Rich, Gifted and Scots featuring Tom Hunter, 2001". 19 January 2009. Archived from the original on 5 March 2009. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
  14. "Tycoon invests in schools scheme". BBC News. 21 April 2005. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
  15. "Contributor Information to the William J. Clinton Foundation". Archived from the original on 27 March 2013. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
  16. "£500k donation from Sir Tom Hunter" (Press release). Music for Dementia. 3 November 2020. Retrieved 12 October 2021.
  17. "Paul Harvey: Composer with dementia inspires £1m donation". BBC News. 2 November 2020. Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  18. "Scottish entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter to get top philanthropic award". HeraldScotland.
  19. "Tom Hunter awarded Carnegia Medal of Philanthropy". Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  20. Alumnus of the Year Archived 23 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  21. Sir Tom Hunter 'chuffed' at award, BBC News, 11 June 2005
  22. 1 2 "Sir Tom Hunter sells French villa for £50m". Daily Record. 6 November 2007. Retrieved 4 January 2009.