Stuart Laing OBE

Name: Stuart Laing OBE
Job: Executive Chairman, Laings Jewellers and Houlden Jewellery Group
Industry: Retail
Class of: 1968
House: Clyde

What do you do?

My role as Executive Chairman is now very much part time. I’m largely retired, but I do attend Board meetings and have regular meetings with the CEO of the family business, Laings Jewellers

In 1972 I founded a group to help independent jewellers by offering management advice, buying facilities, a training academy, marketing services etc. It is named Houlder Jewellers Ltd. (after my mother’s maiden name). It operates out of Glasgow and services over 100 shops in the UK and Ireland. 

Additionally, I have been a Director of the AIHH (Association International Haute Horlogerie) based in Switzerland as well as serving on various trade association committees. 

How did you get to where you are today?

I left school after 5th Year aware that university was not for me. Instead, I found myself accepted for a management trainee scheme with Coats Patons (Textile Group). After a few years being trained in various departments I applied to join the advertising and marketing department. 

Upon joining Laings, I attended business college in Lausanne, Switzerland. Additionally, I’ve achieved a few national awards for my jewellery trade diplomas. I’ve also attended a few Harvard Summer School seminars arranged by an American Gem Corporation. 

I expanded the family business until my son in law and daughter took over, and today I’m proud to say we have six Laings stores and three mono brand shops with Omega and Tag Heuer. 

In 2017, I was awarded an OBE for my services to the UK jewellery industry as well as for my charity work, which has included being Ambassador to the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice, British Heart Foundation along with various other local charities. 

Between 1977 and 1990 I joined the Round Table Organisation and became Area Chairman of Southwest Scotland. 

What is a standout memory of your time at The High School of Glasgow?

Being selected for the 1st XV rugby team whilst still in 5th Year. Additionally, joining the CCF, which taught me the art of discipline.  

I also recall our fantastic French teacher, Mr Campbell. My application of the French language has helped me in my many overseas business trips and board appointments. 

What one piece of advice would you give to current pupils and recent leavers as they look to their futures?

Learn to be a good listener, as well as an orator. The High School, in retrospect, taught me that to be a leader you must integrate and get on with an eclectic bunch of people. I quickly learnt the importance of listening and how to assess situations from everyone else’s perspective. 

Also, do not think your way is the only way. And do not believe that you are always correct! 

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