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Deal brings family firms together

Laings reunited in jewellery chain merger

Michael Laing and Joe Walsh

Gem of a deal: Michael Laing’s business will pass to Joe Walsh

Two Scottish jewellers run by branches of the same family are to reunite as one company after Michael Laing decided to retire and sell his business.

Laings of Glasgow, run by Joe and Wendy Walsh (a member of the Laing family), will take ownership of Laing the Jeweller and Parkhouse the Jeweller (LEPH).

The Glasgow and Edinburgh businesses split in 2005 when Michael took ownership of the Edinburgh store, as well as Parkhouse in Southampton and Cardiff, while his brother Stuart retained ownership of the two shops in Glasgow and remains chairman.

Wendy is 6th generation Laing, and Stuart’s daughter.

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

The newly-combined group will be one of the largest independent jewellery businesses operating seven stores across the UK under the Laings brand.

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.

Clydesdale Bank provided a multi-million pound facility to support the acquisition and provide additional resources for possible expansion.

Laings reception

Richard Laing at a recent promotions evening at the George St, Edinburgh store (photo by Terry Murden)

Mr Walsh 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 £1.7 billion 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.”

Michael Laing 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.”

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