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Sir Tom Hunter outlines vision for Wyevale

Published: 28 May 2008
Chain of shopping malls for the 60-plus baby-boomer generation as Scottish billionaire looks to exploit his £310m investment in garden centres.
Sir Tom Hunter outlines vision for Wyevale
Scotland's richest man, billionaire Sir Tom Hunter has outlined his plans to fight Tesco in the high street after giving up a legal battle against the retail giant.

Hunter, named this month in trade magazine Garden Retail as a leading figure in the sector, says he is seeking to develop his 124 Wyevale Garden Centres business into a chain of shopping malls for the 60-plus baby-boomer generation.

The Ayrshire-based Scot gave up his dream of a UK-wide garden centre chain after opting to sell his 29.2 per cent share in Midlothian-based 24-garden centre chain Dobbies for £12 a share to Tesco, which already owns 65 per cent of the £124.5m-valued company.

Now Hunter, is looking ahead and plans to exploit his £310m investment in Britain's leading garden centre group, Wyevale, made in 2006.

Hunter, who made £260m by selling sports retailer Sports Division to JJB Sports in 1998, said: "We are long-term investors we don't buy something today to sell tomorrow-that's not how we operate here. By long-term I mean that in 5-10 years we see great growth opportunities for the sector. That's why I made the decision to pay what we paid.

"Development is absolutely one the factors we bought Wyevale. We were able to buy the freehold of properties along with the operating business of the garden centres, which is a model that we like. We like to buy freehold assets.

"We're looking at every site because every site is different. There are exciting development opportunities out there."

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