Good news has been hard to come by for those who take a keen interest in the fortunes of Glasgow of late.

As widely documented, the city centre has struggled to fully recover from the fall-out from the coronavirus pandemic. Certain areas, most notably Sauchiehall Street, are blighted by decay and vacant units, while efforts to improve the public realm are causing short-term angst for local businesses, shoppers, and office workers. Adding to the sense of unrest is the festering controversy over the city council’s car policies, with business groups claiming the introduction of the low-emission zone and the increase in parking charges are causing people to stay away, diverting much-need discretionary spending to other locations.

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It is clear decisive action is needed to boost Glasgow’s prospects, which is why the revelation that bosses at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) are exploring the development of a new and bigger conference centre beside its existing venues – including the OVO Hydro and SEC Armadillo – on the banks of the River Clyde has to be welcomed.

Following the exclusive story on the plans broken by The Herald’s Caroline Wilson, my Business Voices column expressed support for the rationale of the project as outlined by SEC chief Peter Duthie, who said the SEC was turning business away because current facilities are not big enough. Mr Duthie, who is now in his 40th year with the business, acknowledged that public funding would be required to build a new facility to the eastern side of the current SEC Centre.

However, he declared that a bigger facility would attract “blockbuster events” and “pay for itself quite quickly”, noting that it would ultimately become a generator of economic output “which in in turn drives tax revenues”.

Signalling support for the SEC’s plans, my column argued: “If Mr Duthie and the SEC did not have a track record of success in delivering major infrastructure projects, it would be easy to dismiss such a bold claim. But the fact is the SEC has very clearly demonstrated its nous in this area, given the outstanding impact that the OVO Hydro has had on the city over the last decade.”

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The piece also revealed plans have the backing of trade body UKHospitality Scotland and Glasgow Chamber of Commerce. Leon Thompson, executive director of UKHospitality Scotland, declared that the industry “can be a major beneficiary of the SEC’s ambition to expand”. He said: “Owners and operators of hotels, pubs, bars, and restaurants will be applauding plans to expand the SEC, with increased capacity to bring even more events to Glasgow.

“We’ve already seen how hospitality businesses in Finnieston increased in number with the opening of the Hydro. These latest plans can recreate that economic ripple effect.”

Glasgow Chamber chief executive Stuart Patrick was equally effusive. Highlighting the economic benefits the SEC brings to Glasgow and Scotland, Mr Patrick stated: “It is imperative that we grab the chance to drive positive expansion with both hands.”

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Meanwhile, encouraging noises about the future of Glasgow have been made by one of the city’s oldest businesses. In an exclusive interview for the latest edition of The Herald’s Business HQ Monthly, Joe Walsh, managing director of Laings, explained why the high-end jewellery firm was investing up to £20 million to upgrade its bricks and mortar presence on UK high streets, including in its home city of Glasgow.

The Laings investment includes its multi-million-pound restoration of the historic Rowan House on Buchanan Street, which will become the jeweller’s new home in the city. Phase one was recently completed with the opening of a new watch centre, where highly trained watchmakers and technicians repair, maintain, refurbish, and adjust timepieces made by such illustrious brands as Rolex, Patek Philippe, TAG Heuer, Longines and Omega.

Rowan House will ultimately also include a new showroom and a hospitality area on the fifth floor, adding to the firm’s existing offices on the second and third floors.

Mr Walsh said of Laings’ aspirations for Rowan House: “[With] luxury retail nowadays, if you go down to Bond Street [in] London or New York, that’s the kind of level we have got to get ourselves to. We are selling Patek Philippe, Rolex – really high-end pieces. The place has to look spectacular and that really comes across with the finishing. A lot of work is going into it.”