“For me, business is all about fun and enjoyment. The money is a secondary factor. Material wealth doesn’t drive me, and I have no aspirations to own yachts, islands or private jets. The way I see it, having money gives me the freedom to live life on my own terms and do the things I want to do, when I want to do them”.
Patrick Fisher founded Wildstone in 2010 with his business partner Damian Cox, with the aim of helping public and private property owners with the capitalisation of their land through transforming them into highly profitable outdoor advertising sites.
“Having my business, Wildstone, has given me opportunities, flexibility and the level of control and self-determination that I want in my life. And you know what, there is nothing better than that,” said Fisher.
A golden business opportunity
Far from your average outdoor advertising business, Wildstone is also a developer and owner of its own prime real estate portfolio. But we’re not talking about run of the mill buy-to-lets, or commercial office buildings. Instead, Wildstone acquires land in high profile locations, which it then develops and rents out as part of its advertising business – such as the sides of buildings and billboards in city centres.
Now with a team of 45 staff working from its impressive central London offices, Wildstone is responsible for developing the majority of high-profile outdoor advertising sites in the UK. Thanks to the company’s expansion in 2015 and a £1billion acquisition war chest of billboard property assets, the company is rapidly becoming the largest aggregation fund of media assets across Europe.
“Wildstone started out as a consultative business, but we quickly realised the value of acquiring our own sites and becoming landlords ourselves, so these days we do both. The way it works is we acquire the sites and work with our in-house team of designers and planners to make them more valuable to advertisers”, said Fisher.
It all started when Patrick Fisher and Damian Cox spotted a golden opportunity. With backgrounds working in traditional outdoor advertising, the pair noticed huge disparities between how much money outdoor advertising companies were making from a site and how much the landlords got to keep themselves.
Fisher added: “Around 10 years ago, digital advertising was beginning to really take off in the UK. At the same time, there were significant opportunities to generate higher advertising revenues for land owners through developing their sites. As Wildstone expanded we also envisioned becoming land owners ourselves. We ultimately went on to do this and it now forms a significant part of our business”.
In addition, Wildstone’s smart city business, Urban Innovation Company and its first product, Pulse Smart Hub, has gained momentum over the last couple of years. It creates next generation connectivity, smart city functions and a host of public health benefits like public access defibrillators and air quality monitors – all funded through its own paid advertising revenues, at no cost to taxpayers.
The £100,000 Pulse Smart Hubs are inspired by traditional British street furniture like the red letter box, K6 phone box and routemaster bus. The first 20 have already been installed in Belfast with applications for other units under consideration in other UK cities.
Wildstone now operates across Germany, France, Ireland and Spain, generating £16m turnover in 2017 – a figure expected to triple for 2018. Not bad for what started off as Patrick and Damian’s big idea only 9 years ago.
Commented Fisher: “At Wildstone, we always look for opportunities to add value to the communities we work in. For example, our Shoreditch canvas project is more of an art installation than an advert. It’s great because it gives us the ability to provide a platform for aspiring local artists to promote their work.
“Another project I am particularly proud of is our Knightsbridge underpass installation. It is one of the most high-profile pieces of real estate in the country and we have two large digital screens located there.
Views on money
“Throughout my life, I’ve always had an inclination for business and was encouraged by my parents to work hard and understand the value of money. I’ve been lucky as most of my financial decisions so far have been good ones,” said Fisher.
“When it comes to financial planning and investing, if you are fortunate enough to make enough money where you have a surplus of cash that you can put aside, then you have a couple of options. Either spend time researching everything yourself or go to a trusted partner who understands investment markets and can guide you through the minefield of long-term stock market investing, tax optimisation, estate planning and so on.
“I have known my Financial Advisor Steven Rowe and his company Lucent Financial Planning for a long time, and I like and trust them a great deal. The way I see it, my focus and energy should be on my business as that is where my interest is and is also where I will see the highest returns. The world of investments and money management doesn’t excite me, so having a trusted pair of hands to help me is perfect.
“I would happily recommend Lucent Financial Planning to anyone and have already referred people to them. As an independent financial advice firm, Lucent only gets paid by the customer which I believe is essential as it means there are no conflicts of interest. For me, the trust aspect is very important as I need to have faith in the right decisions being made on my behalf”.
Lucent Financial Planning is a Chartered financial advice firm located in Solihull, West Midlands, which specialises in retirement planning, pension transfers and investments. For more information please visit www.lucentfinancialplanning.co.uk, or alternatively contact them on 0121 705 1000.