Stuart Laing to retire from Houlden after 40 years

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Laing to step down as CEO in June 2017 with successor in the pipeline.

The Houlden Group has announced that its founder and chief executive officer, Stuart Laing, will retire in June 2017, with a successor due to be announced in June 2015.

Laing founded Houlden in 1975 to make the most of volume buying discounts, using his mother’s maiden name for the business. A few years later he partnered with Peter Lunn and the late Tony Rudell to form the limited company Houlden Jewellers.

In 2014, the Group’s combined retail turnover was in excess of £250m for 2014.

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The appointment of his successor is planned for June 2015, to allow for a comprehensive handover and settling-in period.
Applications for the role were invited to the Group’s recent London meeting, and it is expected that the new leader will come from within the Group’s membership base.

According to an official media release: “Houlden will enlist the advice of a professional third-party recruitment agency throughout the process, and will consider a change to the structure of its directorship to allow for a smooth transition.”

Finance and administrative director Helen Haddow, commented: “How do you replace Stuart Laing? It is not possible to replicate what Stuart has brought to the Group, however his focus, passion for the business and entrepreneurial flair mirror what we see in many of the Houlden businesses. We want to engage and tap into the wealth of talent that lies within the Houlden Group.”

Laing added: “For over 40 years it has been my privilege to work with some of the best independent retailers in the UK and Ireland, and to recognise what we have achieved together. However the time has come to hand over the reins of this group, which through its genuine camaraderie, mutual support and friendship, is quite unique in the industry.”

The future structure of the Group was one of many topics covered at the London Members’ Day and Supplier Exhibition on February 23 to 24.

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