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£1.2m profit for Laing before firm split by brothers

DOUGLAS Laing & Co, the Glasgow-based whisky blending and bottling business, made a retained profit of £1.2 million in the final set of accounts before its split by brothers Fred and Stewart Laing.

FRED LAING: Said brand building had put his firm in strong position.
FRED LAING: Said brand building had put his firm in strong position.

Fred Laing, who has continued to trade as Douglas Laing while his brother Stewart pursues his own whisky business, Hunter Laing, said the result was pleasing in light of the disruptions brought by moves to break the company up.

The company saw profits increase by more than £250,000 on the year before, with turnover rising by nearly £900,000 to about £6.5m for the year ended April 30.

Fred Laing said: "It was probably another best part of a quarter of a million pounds up on the previous year, so we were happy.

"But at the same time we were happy with that set of figures, there was an acknowledgement that it was the last set of figures that my brother and I would put out together.

"We have got to acknowledge that, despite the disruptions that took place throughout that financial year - and there were many as we were focused on the exit strategy of my brother - we were very pleased with the end result."

The Laings announced the formal split of the company they had run together for more than 40 years in May.

In a move presented as succession planning, the brands, stock and assets of Douglas Laing were divided in two. Fred retained the family firm's name and head office in Glasgow's Lynedoch Crescent, and Stewart kept the bottling hall in East Kilbride for Hunter Laing.

Fred, who brought his daughter, Cara, into Douglas Laing as head of marketing after the split, noted it had been a strong year for the original firm in its traditional European markets.

France and Germany performed well, in spite of the difficulties in the eurozone, with brands such as Big Peat, Director's Cut and King of Scots singled out for their contribution. He also highlighted growth in Japan and said the firm's limited exposure in China means it has not seen any impact from the slowdown major players such as Diageo have endured.

While Fred Laing trades as Douglas Laing, Stewart Laing is working alongside sons Andrew and Scott at Hunter Laing.

That company, which established an office in Park Circus, took on the Old Malt Cask, Old & Rare, Douglas Blend, John Player Special and Sovereign brands.

The brands retained by Douglas Laing include Director's Cut, King of Scots, Big Peat and Double Barrel, as well as the single cask Provenance range.

With Douglas Laing seeing its stock levels halved because of the split, Fred Laing said it will be unable to produce the same level of profits in the current financial year. However he said the firm's brand-building expertise puts it in a "strong position - as is the rest of the industry just now".

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