Raymond Miquel
Born: May 28, 1931;
Died: January 25, 2021.
RAYMOND Miquel, who has died aged 89, was a colourful businessman who spent decades at the top of the Scottish business community running – and rescuing – some of the country’s most famous brands. He was head of the whisky group Arthur Bell & Sons for many years and he turned around the confectioner Lees, famous for its macaroons and teacakes. He was credited also with saving the Ryder Cup in the 1980s.
Miquel was particularly known for his driven and detail-focused style. He liked to be in the office early, starting about 7am every day. He pretty much always worked through lunch, and he expected his directors to be in the office late into the evening. 
He also expected to see copies of every company communication, including emails and notes to customers, so he could keep abreast of what was going on. He is said to have commented once that families were for weekends and holidays.
The main focus for most of his business career was Bell’s which he joined as a work-study engineer when he was 25 years old. Within 12 years, he had risen to become managing director. 
He later came to national prominence when he fought two bitter takeover battles in the heady market of the mid-1980s. First, Bell’s forced through a hostile bid for Gleneagles Hotels, but then it found itself on the receiving end of a bid by Guinness under the watch of Ernest Saunders.
The bid by Guinness was big news. When the story broke, Miquel was in Chicago, negotiating to buy the Westin Hotels portfolio from United Airlines, and when he arrived at the airport to fly back to the UK, there was a crowd of photographers waiting for him. “I had never experienced anything like it,” he said.
At first, Miquel was relaxed about the Guinness bid, mainly because Bell’s was more profitable, but Saunders had done his research and proved to be a clever opponent. Miquel lost out and was given a few days to clear his desk, severing his ties with Bell’s that went back to the 1950s.
Miquel – who had been born in London to a French chef father and English mother, and moved to Glasgow during the Second World War – later resurfaced as chairman of the brewer Belhaven, but after only two years was forced to quit in a boardroom tussle. 
There followed a period of working with venture capitalists before he became involved with the Claymore group, which owned a number of Scottish assets including Lees. By 1993, having taken control with his co-investor Klaus Perch-Nielsen, Miquel had turned his full attention to the confectioner.
An old family firm dating back to the 1930s, Lees of Coatbridge was in a poor way: it had a negative balance sheet, owed the banks £3.5 million and had just made two successive losses of more than £1m. In his usual style, Miquel set about sorting out the details: he discovered, for example, that almost half of the company’s 240 products made no money, so he slashed the range to 109.
It did not all go according to plan, though. In 2007, Lees bought the cake-maker Patisserie UK, based in Livingston, for £2.5m, but the deal did not work out and within two years Lees had put the baker into administration. Miquel later hinted that he was not entirely happy with the acquisition, having been on sick leave with a hip operation while others were in charge. “I was on crutches when I signed the deal,” he told the Sunday Herald in 2012. “I didn’t spend the time I should have spent examining the due diligence. I take responsibility for that.”
However, he was still keen to diversify, and had his eye on restaurants. He wanted Lees to invest in the gourmet Champany chop and ale house near Linlithgow. There were plans to put a deli on the premises and open a couple of other such restaurant/boutique hotel complexes. But his fellow directors did not like the idea and thought it too far from Lees’ core business. 
The result was that Miquel stepped down and was succeeded by his son, Clive. In that Sunday Herald interview Miquel refused to talk about his family and the state of his relationship with his son after the disagreements at Lees.
For many years, Miquel lived in Gleneagles, yards from the first tee at the Gleneagles course and, while he was at Bell’s, was credited with saving the Ryder Cup. He orchestrated a £300,000 Bell’s sponsorship deal in the 1980s that brought the cup back from the brink – and set it up to become the huge event it is today.
His life away from business was energetic. He prided himself on his fitness and trained as a jockey in his late fifties, only to be told 
that he was too old to be granted a licence. He ran up Ben Nevis 
for charity, inaugurated the Miquel Award for young tennis players, and was chairman of the Scottish Sports Council.
As for his business reputation, he had fans and detractors. He told The Herald that some people would leak stories to the press about him being hard on staff, refusing to delegate and calling himself professor when it was only an honorary title from Glasgow University. Asked who 
they were, he said: “Unsuccessful people – people that weren’t going anywhere in life that wanted to make a point.”
Miquel, who was made a CBE in 1981, was predeceased by his wife, Nancy, and is survived by his children Caroline, Yvonne and  Clive, his grandchildren and his great-grandchildren.