There aren’t many people who get to own their hometown football club.
But that’s what Stockport-born property entrepreneur Mark Stott has managed to do, and the CEO of Cheshire firm Vita Group is now considered by many to be his town’s most successful businessman ever.
Most recently, his side Stockport County FC, who are in the National League – the fifth tier of English football – were only just beaten by high-flying Premier League outfit West Ham in the third round of the FA Cup.
The club certainly has big ambitions, and was bought a year ago by Mr Stott, whose other main interests are in his property firms Vita Group and Select Property Group. Working side by side, these two businesses are a global developer, retailer and operator of leading property investment brands.
What’s his background?
Speaking to the Stockport County FC website when he took over the club, Mr Stott said after growing up on the Parklands Estate, he took his first ever job selling adverts for the Stockport Express Advertiser.
Mr Stott, who attended Poynton High Schooll explained: “I did that for a couple of years before moving to work at Smith Knight Fay [also in Stockport] selling cars.
“I didn’t do particularly well at school and started working for myself at 20.
“I’ve worked for myself most of my life and along that journey I’ve been lucky enough to pick up some great contacts, some great friends and colleagues.”
According to an MEN interview in 2010, armed with his £3,000 savings, Mr Stott joined forces with his business partner Lincoln Phillips, and they began selling cars from Mr Stott’s driveway. Within six months, they had moved the business to a garage in Wilmslow.
In 1995, and still only 23, he decided to split up the partnership and go it alone, buying and selling cars such as Porsches and Ferraris – and once took David Beckham’s Bentley off his hands.
A year later, Mr Stott decided to invest some of the money he’d made and open a bar in Wilmslow. Eskimo was initially a success, but turned out to be a “disaster”, and he ended up losing around £350,000.
In 2000, Mr Stott and his friend and business partner, Giles Beswick, who had worked with him at the bar, focused their attention on the car business – soon paying off the debts.
With a small amount of cash, the pair set up a small software business which today is the IT department of Select.
Years on, he is now widely considered the town’s most successful entrepreneur, having built two businesses – Select Property Group and Vita Group.
Vita Group and Select Property Group
Mr Stott is founder and CEO of Cheshire-based Vita Group and Select Property Group.
Select, founded in 2004, is an industry-leading UK property investment firm and a developer, retailer and operator of property investment brands. It claims to be one of the first that identified the “vast investment potential” of Dubai’s property market.
Based at Horseshoe Farm in Alderley Edge, the group was founded as one company over 15 years ago. It soon began rapidly expanding and now has dozens of subsidiary companies.
In 2012, Select partnered with one of the other group companies, Vita, to “transform” the UK student property sector by forming Vita Student, and has since sold thousands of apartments to investors around the world.
In 2019, a company-wide restructure was launched to make clear the distinction between Vita and Select – now sister firms.
‘Vita Group’ was launched to run the sales and operational divisions of the huge business, while Select handles investor sales working from offices in Dubai, Shanghai and Hong Kong.
Stockport County FC
Mr Stott bought Stockport County in January 2020, saying he wants to achieve “great things” with the club.
Upon taking over, he said his first priority as new owner was to improve football operations and match day fan experience at Edgeley Park.
On several occasions in his first year in charge, he has reached out to help the local community. Achievements over the past 12 months include raising more than £200,000 for school meals for schoolchildren in December before the Government’s u-turn, as well as helping the Stockport NHS trust by supplying them ventilators last year.
On the pitch, there has also been considerable success over the past year. Earlier this month, the side reached the third round of the FA Cup, narrowly losing out to Premier League side West Ham due to a late header.
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With the club currently sat fifth in the National League – the fifth tier of English football, it has ambitious plans to reach the Championship within seven years, as MailOnline reports.
Mr Stott told the club website the size of the organisation warrants being in a “different league, a different place”.
Last year, Mr Stott threw his weight behind plans to build a new £350m arena in Manchester next to the Etihad Stadium, saying it would propel the city to the “world stage”.