The Scottish entrepreneur behind the Amsterdam-based Student Hotel group has revealed he has lost out on sites in Glasgow and Edinburgh because of “hot” conditions in the property market, but remains determined to bring the business model to Scotland.

And Charlie MacGregor, who is originally from Edinburgh, declared his plans will not be derailed by Brexit uncertainty.

The Student Hotel, established by Mr MacGregor in 2006, has developed a pioneering approach to student accommodation. Its model, which has been rolled out to Barcelona, Berlin, Dresden, Eindhoven, Florence, Groningen, Maastricht, Paris, Rotterdam and The Hague, leases out large numbers of its rooms to students during academic terms between September and June, while catering for those travelling or attending summer schools in July and August.

However, it also seeks to embed itself in local communities by developing communal spaces, including co-working zones for start-ups and entrepreneurs.

Mr MacGregor said the firm, which operate with hotel licences, is hungry to bring the model to Scotland, though his attempts have been thwarted so far. Speaking to The Herald, Mr MacGregor, who is due to speak at the Entrepreneurial Scotland conference in Gleneagles on Thursday (April 25), said: “We are desperate to [move into Scotland] – I have got to show my family and friends what I am doing!

“It would be a dream come true for me to realise a project in Edinburgh or Glasgow, and we are working very hard to try and secure one.”

Asked if the firm has been assessing sites in Scotland, Mr MacGregor said: “We have been doing more than that – we have been trying to buy sites. We have been outbid, to be honest. It does not happen that often, but the market in Edinburgh and in Glasgow is really hot.

“Every project has a business plan and [in] our business plan we have felt we have been as aggressive as we can be, but we have lost the sites. But we will get there.”

He added: “We are working actively on two projects in Glasgow, and one in Edinburgh. I hope that from those two in Glasgow one will work. It seems that we have a good positive relationship with all the universities in Glasgow. The city council understand what we are doing and are very supportive.”

Mr MacGregor, who moved to The Netherlands 15 years ago, signalled his disappointment with the vote by the UK to leave the European Union (EU), while respecting the opinion of those on the other side of the debate. But he said the result of the referendum has not diminished the firm’s appetite for investing in the UK. Noting that Student Hotel is backed by two heavyweight financial partners, Dutch pension fund APG and a real estate fund, which have provided the “firepower” to fund acquisitions, he said: “We have decided to invest in the UK regardless. We were nervous, of course, when the vote came in. But we looked at it and said we’re going to develop three, four, five projects in the UK, so it is not going to be a massive part of the business. The main part will be mainland Europe and elsewhere.”

But he warned: “There is a concern the UK was seen as a very stable place. The UK brand has been damaged because it is not such a stable place anymore.”

Adding that he would “rather be taking walls down than building walls”, Mr MacGregor said a central mission of his business is to not only help students make connections with each other, but to encourage networking and collaboration between local people who use its spaces.

He said: “What I experience is that the less borders there are to enable that connectivity, then the better it goes. Personally, I would rather be taking down walls than building walls.”

Meanwhile, Mr MacGregor said he will be sharing the ups and downs of his business journey when he speaks at the Entrepreneurial Scotland conference.

“It was maybe the most difficult moments when I have learnt the most,” he said. “If I am able to tell that story in an honest way, and if anybody can take some lessons from it and maybe take some shortcuts from my experience [I will be pleased].”