ENTREPRENEUR Sir Brian Souter says he is “extremely concerned” about the long-term impact Covid-19 has had, and will continue to have, on “wider social, economic, and environmental structures”.

The Stagecoach co-founder, in the investment review of his family Souter Investments vehicle, writes that the “rise” of internet shopping and working from home has “changed the nature of our interactions, economic and social, with our town centres, our neighbours, and our colleagues”.

He also flags the “acute human suffering” of “many who are less fortunate”. Sir Brian writes that conditions for many are tough, “exacerbated by war, exploitation, the climate emergency, inequality, the lack of government support for the disadvantaged and, of course, Covid-19”.

Sir Brian meanwhile notes the private-equity-focused Souter Investments’ portfolio increased in value by 8% per annum over the 15 years to March 31, to be “270% higher in value than it would have been if we had invested solely in the UK stock market”.

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Asked about performance in the year to March, Souter Investments said: “As the majority of our investments are private equity investments in specific unquoted companies that take an average of 5.5 years to mature we don’t measure performance on a [discrete] 12-months basis.”

It noted it had invested more than £500 million across 74 unquoted investments in the last 15 years, adding: “Our portfolio value is in excess of £500m.”

Software business LIKEZERO and carbon markets specialist Climate Impact Partners have been among the holdings added to Souter Investments’ portfolio in recent times.

Weighing the long-term effects of Covid-19, Sir Brian writes in the investment review: "Years of modal shift from the private car to sustainable public transport have reversed with implications for congestion and the environment as, for example, emissions from home deliveries present new challenges for cities and conurbations.

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"Our young people have been badly affected by upheaval in childcare, in schools, colleges and universities. Our health and care services are at breaking point, attempting to cope with an ageing population as well as a backlog of cases post-Covid. Other changes may not yet be apparent or visible."

He adds: "These are not issues facing the UK alone. Few governments seem equipped to adapt, provide strong leadership or indeed a dynamic and deliverable vision for the future.

"But we are also living through the next stage of great technological advancement, with years of digital adoption accelerated into months because of the pandemic."