Stuart Laing, Executive Chairman of Laings and previously CEO and founder of the Houlden Group, is one of the most respected names in the global jewellery and watch industry. After joining the family business in 1970 Stuart was instrumental in steering Laings towards the success that it enjoys today. Alongside his role at Laings he made impact in the trade by founding the Houlden Group, whilst giving expert advice across the industry. His work within the industry has now been recognised with an OBE award.
Stuart was delighted to receive the award after his hard work within the UK’s jewellery industry and commented: “Strengthening and creating a strong, independent retail sector and giving the UK industry a global identity has been extremely rewarding.”
The jewellery business has always been a part of Stuart’s life. Laings was established in 1840 and is one of Scotland’s the oldest family businesses. Stuart joined the business in 1970 and straight away made an impact opening new showrooms in the revered Argyll Arcade, Glasgow. Over the years his knowledge, expertise and business acumen helped Laings to grow into the business it is today, a thriving family-run operation with a reputation for outstanding customer service and high quality goods. Laings is now one of the largest independent jewellery businesses operating seven stores across the UK, three stores in Glasgow, two in Edinburgh, one in Cardiff and one in Southampton. Stuart remains active in his role at Laings and has enjoyed being part of the next chapter of the business.
An unrivalled knowledge of retail, coupled with Stuart’s entrepreneurial flair meant that his influence didn’t stop at Laings and in 1975 the Houlden Group was created. Stuart identified that independent jewellers required help in competing with larger companies and buying jewellery in volume. This could be accomplished through placing orders with jewellers in non-competing locations. The Houlden Group grew and offered buying, marketing and training to the members of this premium consortium of luxury independent jewellers and is placed in the top 3, jewellery and watch retail buying services within the UK and Ireland. He also created the ‘Jewellers of Excellence’ brand, which is a hall mark of trust within the industry. Stuart retired from Houlden’s in July 2016, leaving the company in an excellent position to continue their success and ongoing projects.
Stuart has been involved in all aspects of the industry and was the only UK Director of SIHH (Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie), a renowned association of the best jewellers in the world, in co-operation with high-end watch houses. He was also an advisor to Couture Europe and sat on various trade committees. Furthermore, Stuart was a board member of IJL show (International Jewellery London), as well as a council member of the NAJ (National Association of Jewellers). Over the years his interest in jewellery never waned and he also spent time mentoring various upcoming jewellery designers.
After graduating from the High School of Glasgow, Stuart embarked on various studies at the CFH in Lausanne, Switzerland. In his free time Stuart is a keen golfer and a member of The R and A, Prestwick and Royal Troon Golf Clubs. He also enjoys travel, boating, the theatre and collecting art. Residing in Troon, Ayrshire Stuart is married to his wife Lynda, who he has three children with and five grandchildren.