Laing Edinburgh is preparing to invest £1.3m in a new boutique on George Street in the city – a move that represents the culmination of a lifelong dream for chairman Michael Laing OBE.
The prestigious street in the heart of Edinburgh is prime real estate for the company, which has long harboured a dream to move to the area.
Laing Edinburgh, which is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year, has agreed terms to move into the corner site at 72 George Street, formerly occupied by Barclays Bank.
A re-fit of the premises is expected to cost in the region of £1.3m, and the work is expected to start in August. The new premises will also see Laing Edinburgh leave its existing site at 29 Frederick Street.
The second Laing Edinburgh showroom at 25 Frederick Street – which offers luxury brands including Omega, Longines and Chopard – will remain in its current location following the move.
Michael Laing OBE, chairman and owner of Laing the Jeweller Ltd, launched the existing diamond and luxury watch store at 29 Frederick Street back in 1978. Commenting on the move, he said: “Opening our new flagship showroom on the corner of George Street and Frederick Street is the fulfilment of a dream.
“This property is the perfect setting for us. We have been looking for the right location for Laing on George Street for many years now, but suitable properties don’t often come onto the market.
“Most of the Georgian buildings have narrow shop fronts, while we needed a property with more presence, greater window space to display our luxury brands and diamond collections and give our customers more opportunity to browse. We are the specialist Edinburgh retailers of brands including Rolex, Cartier, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Breitling, TAG Heuer and Panerai amongst others with acknowledged expertise in diamonds and design.
“This is one of the most significant corner sites in the city – we see huge potential for this property as it’s very much a blank canvas at the moment. It also gives us the opportunity to bring back some of the Georgian grandeur that you would expect in a World Heritage Site.”
He added: “This isn’t just a step forward for Laing Edinburgh but also for the city. We are opening a luxury store in a key location that will appeal to both international visitors and local customers, reinforcing Edinburgh’s reputation as a leading shopping destination.
“We are making a significant investment in the new store and our collections. At the heart of our business is a focus on delivering exceptional customer service, our foundations are based on our history and generations of expertise. However, we’re a business that continually looks forward, we have a dynamic and innovative culture and our new store better reflects where we want to be.”
The new showroom will fuse modern technology with neutral-toned furnishings, including a palette of mink and soft cream. The boutique will cover two floors, connected by a sweeping cast iron and glass staircase with contemporary details and textiles throughout.
The space will also feature an in-house workshop with a team of craftsmen and specialist designers, as well as the company’s “thriving service department”.
In addition to its two branches in Edinburgh, the Laing family also owns two stores under the established Parkhouse brand, one in Cardiff and one in Southampton.
Laing added that the company is currently looking at further expansion possibilities throughout the UK as well across its digital store presence.
In 2013, Laing reported a 42% increase in profit breaking the £1m barrier. The growth of the business has continued, predominately driven by watch and diamond sales. A new e-commerce website was launched last year and there has been a continued investment in people, training and IT.
PICTURE: ichard Laing director with Michael Laing OBE with new store layouts