HOT 100 2014: Michael Laing, Laing and Parkhouse

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Michael Laing describes himself as being on “a crusade to improve”. The wording conjures up a powerful image, but for a man with the letters OBE after his name, you don’t doubt for a minute that it’s true.

The single most important development at the Scotsman’s business this year has been a big one; Michael has been busy overhauling his business, completely repositioning and relaunching his two retail brands.

“As the high streets become ever more dominated by the larger global brands we felt it was vital to refresh our identity with greater clarity and appeal to ensure our customers had a reason to visit us,” says Michael. “Taking the step to change corporate colours, logo, packaging, website, store interiors and even right down to the business cards, we ensured the Laing/Parkhouse brands are easily recognisable, and ones with which consumers can identify.”

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The new branding is a mixture of the old and the new, with elements of the company’s history intermingled with its vision of the future, and Michael has chalked the new look up as a success after positive feedback from shoppers and brands.

Michael says that the economy has continued to apply pressure, as well as the unique difficulties in running two businesses coherently in spite of a 400-mile separation – Laing is in Edinburgh, while Parkhouse has stores in Cardiff and Southampton. In spite of this he reports “another excellent year,” with pre-owned watch sales proving particularly robust, delivering “huge sales increases”.

When quizzed about his personal and professional goals for the future, Michael doesn’t skip a beat, as each January he sets himself challenges for the year ahead. “My personal goals are around maintaining a better work-life balance – this includes commitment to daily meditation, going to the gym a minimum of three times a week, family time and commitment to fun and holiday breaks,” he says. “My business goals are to keep growing, encouraging and developing our management team to achieve our business goals. They are all clear, specific, measureable with timelines and financial deadlines… and, most of all, they are private!”

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