THE brothers behind Douglas Laing & Co, the Glasgow-based whisky blenders and bottler, have split the family-owned company in two after reaching an amicable agreement that secures the business for the next generation.

Stewart and Fred Laing went their separate ways in commercial terms yesterday after running the company they inherited from their father more than 40 years ago. The pair are now at the helm of two separate commercial entities that feature key roles for their respective children.

Stewart Laing has been joined by sons Andrew and Scott in new venture Hunter Laing & Co.

It will retain around half of the original company's brands, including Old Malt Cask, Old & Rare, Douglas Blend, John Player Special and Sovereign, as well as its bottling operation in East Kilbride.

Hunter Laing has also absorbed Edition Spirits, a whisky bottling business run by Andrew and Scott Laing. The arrival of Edition is said to bring new customers and markets to its new owner in the Far East.

Meanwhile, the name Douglas Laing & Co will continue with Fred Laing at the helm, featuring Fred's daughter Cara Laing as head of brands marketing.

Ms Laing is said to bring considerable industry experience to the role, having moved from Morrison Bowmore Distillers, where she led the Bowmore and Glen Garioch brands as marketing manager.

She is also a former global brand manager for the Isle of Jura single malt and worked previously on Dalmore and Whyte & Mackay.

Douglas Laing will retain around the rest of the original company's brands, including Director's Cut, King of Scots, Big Peat, Double Barrel and the single cask Provenance range.

It has retained several key members of staff among its 12-strong team, including finance director Alick Bisset, head of logistics Archie Hamilton and head of production Stephen Gardiner, and pledged to make further senior appointments.

Prior to the demerger, Douglas Laing & Co exported to around 65 countries, with the UK, Germany, Scandinavia and France its leading destinations. Both companies plan to introduce new products and move into new territories in the near future.

Stewart Laing insisted there was no fallout behind the split. He said: "I worked with my brother for 47 years and we couldn't have got on for 47 years without having worked well. In that sense there is no problem, there is no animosity.

"I'm 66 now, and while I'm still young at heart, you have to look to the future, particularly in a family company. This was the way that made sense for us.

"In my particular instance, with my sons already having a whisky company, it made sense to join us both together and it may give us an extra lease of life, I hope."

Those thoughts were echoed by Fred Laing, who said succession planning had been in his mind for the past 12 to 15 years.

He said: "I must admit there is a commercial high [on completing the deal], but there is also an emotional loss because I've worked with the company with my brother Stewart for more than 40 years.

"There is undoubtedly the harsh reality the next day after signing the deal documents that that will not be the case again.

"But the converse is that the next generation from my side is well protected. It's a real, nice positive step into the future for me."

Stewart Laing said Hunter Laing's immediate priority would be visiting key customers around the world to communicate the changes, emphasising that the Far East "remains a prime target".

Fred Laing said the key objective for Douglas Laing would be in building up stocks and developing its brands portfolio, having seen that business approximately halve as a result of the demerger.

He said: "I've got a focus to quite specifically take us back to the point where we hit the same target in profitability. We're aiming to do that in three years. It may be a high hope, but we now have a professional marketing team in place in the shape of my daughter, which is something I never had. Allied to an additional sales team we're going to bring on board with Scotch whisky experience at a good level, we believe is possible."

Hunter Laing will be run by its three main shareholders alongside finance director David Armour and a seven-strong sales, marketing and operations team. It has a total workforce of 16, which includes staff based in East Kilbride.

Douglas Laing & Co reported a 17% rise in pre-tax profits to £1.4 million for the year to March 2012, on sales up 13% to £5.7m.