Laings of Glasgow isn’t the only family jeweller in the UK that can trace its heritage back 175 years, but it remains one of the most respected. Stuart Laing says his greatest achievement of the past 12 months has been steering the business into this landmark anniversary year, thanks in no small part to the next generation of Laings, who have now formed a formidable board of directors and management team.
The trust Stuart places in that next generation, particularly his daughter Wendy and her husband Joe, has allowed him to successfully divide his time between Laings – which has added a third store this year in Glasgow’s prestigious Argyll Arcade – and Houlden Group, a collection of high end jewellers that pool knowledge and buying power.
With the newest Laing store on stream, Stuart predicts 2014 will be a time of consolidation following three years when the business has notched 60% growth. It is also a time of continuing expansion for Houlden. He wants the group’s retailers to “grab their share of the watch and jewellery market, and create a succession plan for years to come,” he says.
Handing over the reins of power has become a full time job for this fiercely proud Glaswegian who argues passionately for Scotland to reject Alex Salmond’s independence drive. Small wonder given the nationwide and even international influence the country’s patriarch of luxury jewellery and watches exerts.