Mike Welch OBE, Blackcircles.com
Born in Liverpool, England, Welch left school aged 16 and began working as a tyre fitter. He quit in 1996, just weeks after joining, to launch his first tyre retail business, MW Motorforce. He ran the company from a room in his parents’ house with a mobile phone and help from a £500 grant from The Prince's Trust. Welch moved to Edinburgh after being head-hunted by Sir Tom Farmer to work as Kwik-Fit’s New Business and e-Commerce Manager in 2000. He left the company two years later after he was told he would have to wait 30–40 years to make Chief Executive.
Mike set up Blackcircles.com in 2001 with a first year turnover of £10,000. Blackcircles.com has grown to be a significant player in the UK tyre retail market, generating sales of around £40m annually and looking after over 1,000,000 customers. The company is still headquartered in the Scottish Borders town of Peebles. In 2011 Tesco Tyres.com was launched, a joint venture between Blackcircles.com and Tesco Plc, the world’s second largest retailer.
Mike was awarded Entrepreneurial Scotland’s Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year 2014 and in 2015, Blackcircles.com was acquired by Michelin for £50m plus a £40m earn out over 3 years.
Mike launched the Welch Trust, a Scottish charitable trust which aims to provide grants to support children and young people. The trusts focus is on making life easier for children and families whose children need it most, with a particular interest in supporting: adoption and fostering support for parents and children; critical and terminal illness in children; and the advancement of business education for children.
In 2016, Mike has launched several new projects including: The Welch Group providing private equity, with a focus on internet retail and property investment opportunities. He bought Atterley.com, an online fashion store that brings together discerning fashion consumers and the best boutique and independent stores from around the world. He invested in Houseology.com, the UKs premier online interior design store.