LUXURY SCOTTISH JEWELLER ANNOUNCES ACQUISITION

Established Scottish jeweller Michael Laing OBE, owner of Laing The Jeweller Ltd and Parkhouse The Jeweller Ltd (LEPH) has announced his retirement and the sale of the business to Laing Glasgow Holdings Ltd and Subs, (Laings of Glasgow).

Laings of Glasgow is run by Joe and Wendy Walsh (nee Laing). Wendy is 6th generation Laing, Michael’s niece and daughter of Michael’s brother Stuart Laing, Chairman of Laings of Glasgow.

J.R & W Laing was a family business established in 1840, originally as a manufacturing and wholesaling business, but soon focusing on retailing, gaining a reputation for quality service amongst the gentry of Victorian Glasgow.

Based in St Vincent Street for much of the firm’s existence Laings survived the Great Depression and two world wars before opening a new shop in Renfield Street in 1960. Under the ownership of brothers Michael and Stuart, they opened a new outlet in Argyll Arcade in 1971 before opening stores in Edinburgh and Cardiff and buying a business in Southampton.

The acquisition sees the reuniting of the original family business which in 2005 was split between Michael and Stuart. Stuart retained ownership of the two existing shops in Glasgow and Michael took ownership of the Edinburgh store, as well as Parkhouse in Southampton and Cardiff.

The enlarged group will be one of the largest independent jewellery businesses operating seven stores across the UK under one brand ‘Laings’. There are three stores in the Argyll Arcade, Glasgow, two in Edinburgh, one in Cardiff and one in Southampton.

Jonathan Payne (LEPH Managing Director) and Michael’s son, Richard, will remain with the enlarged business as Directors. The new group will have 130 staff.

The funding for the acquisition has been provided by Clydesdale Bank. The new multi-million pound facility will be used to support the acquisition and provide additional resources for possible expansion.

Commenting on the re-merger, Joe Walsh, Managing Director, Laings said: “We’re delighted to have this unique opportunity to ultimately bring the companies back together. Michael and his team have built a very successful business and it’s an honour to build on his legacy and help to take the family business to the next stage of its evolution.

This is a good time to be involved in our industry, with demand for high-end watches expected to reach £1.7bn over the next five years and jewellery revenues projected to expand by 4.3% this year.

We see ourselves as custodians of Laings and we’ll always stay true to the original philosophy of the founders, to provide the finest quality products and highest levels of service.”

Andrew Carson, Senior Director, Corporate and Structured Finance, Clydesdale Bank said: “Laings is a fantastic family business with ambitious management and owners, and a truly impressive heritage. It’s hugely rewarding to know that we can play a part in helping the two firms join forces once again, and build on the success of the last 175 years.”

Michael Laing OBE, added: “Over the last 47 years, I have had a wonderful journey in our industry and growing Laing through very fast changing times. It is more than a business to me, it’s a passion. For the last year, I have been considering the best way forward for the business to continue to thrive and grow. Since 1840, our family business has been passed between siblings throughout the generations. Today represents a significant milestone for the Laing family as we re-merge the businesses to once again become one. It has been a privilege to have played my part in creating this re-merger to evolveto become one of the UK’s largest independent luxury jewellers. With my retirement, Joe Walsh, Stuart’s son-in-law, will take the helm of the business with our managing director Jonathan Payne and my son Richard and our fabulous team, will steer the Laing family business forward through the next phase of its journey, retaining the professionalism, family values and warmth of customer service that both we and our customers enjoy.”