Laing the Jeweller, which has stores in Edinburgh and Southampton and Cardiff, has been acquired by Laing Glasgow Holdings Ltd (Laings of Glasgow) as owner Michael Laing retires from the business.
Laings of Glasgow is currently run by Joe and Wendy Walsh, Wendy being the niece of Michael Laing and daughter of Stuart Laing.
Originally all one business, J R & W Laing was established in 1840, initially as a manufacturer and wholesaler, but soon turned its attention to retailing.
Based in St Vincent Street, Glasgow, for much of the firm’s existence Laings opened 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.
However, in 2005 the business was split between Michael and Stuart with Stuart retaining ownership of the stores in Glasgow while Michael took ownership of the stores in Edinburgh, Southampton and Cardiff (the latter two known as Parkhouse).
Today’s acquisition sees the reuniting of the original family business and 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 Glasgow’s Argyll Arcade, two in Edinburgh, one in Cardiff and one in Southampton.
Jonathan Payne, Laing the Jeweller managing director, and Michael’s son, Richard, will remain with the enlarged business as directors. The new group will have 130 staff.
The Laings’ directors
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.”
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 evolve to 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.”
The funding for the acquisition was provided by Clydesdale Bank. The new multi-million pound facility will be used to support the acquisition and provide additional resources for possible expansion.
Andrew Carson, senior director, corporate and structured finance, Clydesdale Bank added: “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.”