West Coast Capital, the investment company controlled by Tom Hunter, has budgeted investments £40 million (e57m-$76m) to enable Qube, a new high-end shoe retail chain that opened its first stand-alone store last April, to raise the number of its stores in the UK and Ireland from 10 at present to up to 150 within the next five years, occupying key locations throughout the two countries.
The focus is on opening profitable stores in the right location, with the right product and pricing, even if that means opening only 75 stores rather than 150. For Hunter, the investment resembles a trip down memory line, since Qube is based at the former head office in Dundonald, Ayrshire of Sports Division, which was the Scottish entrepreneur’s first scompany. Hunter built Sports Division up from nothing into a business that he sold for £290 million (e414m-$551m) to JJB Sports in 1998. Qube’s headquarters for sales, marketing, administration, warehousing, IT support and design will remain in Ayrshire.
Carrying upmarket brands like Ted Baker, Patrick Cox, Lacoste and Nike, Qube is the latest in Hunter’s long line of investments in the British fashion and footwear retailing sector. He is also a major shareholder of Office, USC, D2 Jeans, Birthdays and the Gadget Shop. He also owns stakes in British Home Stores and JJB Sports. The Office chain of shoe shops, which has very ambitious expansion plans as well, has just hired a new buyer for women’s shoes, Becky Evans, who comes from Topshop. She will take over some of the responsibilities of Lynsey Hand, the former buying director of Office, who has left the company.