The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Ayrshire entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter
awarded degree by Paisley University

LEADING Scots entrepreneur and philanthropist Sir Tom Hunter was honoured by the University of Paisley at its recent graduation ceremony.

Sir Tom, who was born on 6 May 1961 in New Cumnock, Ayrshire, received an Honorary Doctorate from the University at its graduation ceremony at Troon Town Hall.

Sir Tom initially came to prominence through Sports Division, which he built from nothing into one of the UK’s premier sports retailers over an eighteen-year period, employing 7,500 people across over 250 stores. He sold the business in 1998 for £290 million.

In 2001 he founded West Coast Capital (West Coast), the private equity partnership, and subsequently has concluded in excess of £4 billion of West Coast-led deals.

Principally investing in retail, property and leisure, the private equity firm takes a proactive role in the identification, investment and management of its target deals, classically known as adventure capitalism. As a guiding principal, West Coast seeks to target investment in businesses with strong management teams capable of major and sustainable growth. Within the West Coast investment portfolio, Sir Tom oversees a number of retail and property boards providing strategic and corporate direction to the management teams.

Sir Tom is an ardent supporter of fellow entrepreneurs and passionate about making Scotland a more enterprising nation. He continues to devote considerable time, money and energy in his efforts to work with educational establishments and fellow entrepreneurs to further this cause, and is a past chairman of the Entrepreneurial Exchange.

Commenting on his Honorary Doctorate, Sir Tom said: “It’s a great honour to get this degree from the University of Paisley. It has a particular resonance for me, given that Paisley is where I opened my first Sports Division shop. It’s also important because I think the soon-to-be University of the West of Scotland is a place for real inclusion where vocational qualifications and academic achievement are held in high regard.”

With his wife, Marion, Sir Tom established The Hunter Foundation (THF) in 1998, a venture philanthropy targeting investment in education and enterprise across Scotland. Since inception it has invested, or committed to invest, in excess of £35million in national programmes aimed at engendering a more enterprising spirit within Scotland, particularly within its young people. In turn THF is investing in Africa to support the development of self-sustaining communities with education a key pillar of these investments.

Sir Tom is a director of the Princes Scottish Business Youth Trust (PSYBT), Schools Enterprise Scotland – where he led the £5million fundraising campaign to deliver enterprise education for all of Scotland’s primary school children. He is also a trustee of the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland and chairman of the Make a Wish Foundation in Scotland.

A University of Paisley spokesperson said: “We are delighted to have presented Sir Tom Hunter with an Honorary Doctorate.

“During his career Sir Tom has made a hugely important contribution to the Scottish business sector, through his business ventures and support of entrepreneurism. Through the Hunter Foundation he plays a vital role in supporting education and encouraging of entrepreneurship at home and abroad. Engendering entrepreneurial endeavour is a key aim of the University, and our Business School has been actively involved in research and teaching in this field in recent years, which has brought major benefits for our students and graduates.”

West Coast Capital

University of Paisley

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