Entrepreneur and philanthropist. Born Edinburgh, brought up in Leith, Farmer began as an apprentice in a garage in Edinburgh, but left in 1964 to start his own business, Tyres & Accessory Supplies. He built the business up and sold it for £450,000 just four years later and 'retired' to the USA. Needing a further challenge in his life, he decided to return to Scotland and apply American methods to a new business. In 1971, he established the first of his Kwik-Fit tyre and exhaust centres, which grew into a £1 billion business by 1999 when it was purchased by the Ford Motor Company. The company headquarters remains in Edinburgh, although Farmer soon moved on to other business interests.
Farmer chaired the government-sponsored Scotland Against Drugs campaign, set up by Scottish Secretary Michael Forsyth (b.1954), which attracted controversy when it split over whether to maintain a zero-tolerance policy or support health projects for existing addicts. Farmer also supported the equally controversial campaign to maintain the laws preventing the discussion of homosexuality in the class-room. A devout Roman Catholic, Farmer gives time to the work of the church and was appointed a papal knight of St. Gregory the Great. He was also friend of the late Cardinal Thomas Winning (1925 - 2001).
Farmer is also a Trustee of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme and is in demand as a speaker. He was named Scottish Businessman of the Year (1989), was awarded honorary degrees from the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow (1996), a CBE (1990) and was knighted (1997).
An enthusiastic football-supporter, Farmer became Chairman and principal shareholder of the Edinburgh club Hibernian when he invested £6 million.
He lives in the Barnton district of Edinburgh.