Planks for memories as timber shop shuts

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THE first DIY store to open in Edinburgh is to close its doors after more than 50 years in business.

Lawson’s Timber has supplied shelves, doors, flooring and other timber products to generations of city home owners and businesses.

But the family firm is set to close after the son of its first owner decided to sell up and concentrate on dealing in the city’s booming property market.

The firm’s Lady Lawson Street base was set to go up for sale today, and will close in December, unless a buyer can be found to take it on as a going concern.

Lawson’s Timber was set up in 1952 by Lawson McKill, 76, the father of the current owner, in West Port. It moved to its current Lady Lawson Street premises in the early 60s.

Current managing director Donald McKill, 45, said much had changed since his father started the business, particularly the boom in interest in DIY. He added: "It’ll be a great wrench to give up what’s become an institution in Edinburgh.

"There can hardly be a home in the city that hasn’t had a bit of Lawson Timber fitted at some time down the years." The company opened what is believed to be Edinburgh’s first DIY store in the West Port in 1952, before expanding to other branches in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Newcastle.

Donald McKill said: "Sadly, I’ve decided it’s time to move on. I hope to be able to find someone who will take the business on as a going concern or I’ll be looking to let or sell the property.

"I want to take my own business career in a different direction. I’ve been building up a property portfolio over the last few years and now want to concentrate on that and other business interests."

Mr McKill, who has worked in the shop for twenty years, owns a number of commercial properties in the Capital, including the Nail Factory and Ocean Jewellery, run by his sister Gail, in Lady Lawson Street, as well as a ceramic tile factory and an estate agents in Portobello.

Lawson’s outlets in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Newcastle were sold in 1974, before Mr McKill bought back the Capital store in 1983.

He said: "It has been a great 20 years. I have gone all over Europe buying timber. The thing we specialise in, cut-to-size [timber], gives you the scope to deal with all sorts of people. You are not dealing with one sector, that’s the beauty of this shop. The different characters who have presented themselves have made it the experience it has been."

Mr McKill, who was in the Marines and worked on oil rigs before taking over the family business, said he was also looking forward to no longer working seven days a week. The premises will be put up for let or sale through estate agents Ryden.

Mr McKill said Lawson’s had been the city’s first DIY store. He said: "DIY probably didn’t really exist when my father started out, it probably did start in Edinburgh as Lawson doing it himself and offering that service to customers.

"Although the volume of work has increased, the service has stayed pretty much the same. The cut-to-size that we do is exactly the same in that respect, it hasn’t changed.

"The range of products has got bigger and the premises have got bigger, but the format of the business hasn’t actually changed. It has always been for the DIY enthusiast as opposed to the trade industry.

"While the DIY phenomenon has taken off, with Changing Rooms and people developing their properties, that market has increased.

"People are tackling jobs like putting up a new kitchen worktop themselves as opposed to maybe getting a joiner in to do that. People are definitely prepared to tackle a lot more about the house."

A spokesman for the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce said: "Lawson’s have been an Edinburgh institution and it will be very sad to see them passing.

"They have done excellent business to develop that reputation over the 50 years they have been in business. Times do move on and they have occupied very valuable premises in the centre of Edinburgh so no doubt somebody will benefit from any transaction concerning that.

"The market has changed significantly in that time and sometimes you have to recognise it is time to move on in business. We would certainly wish them all the best as a family in the future."

• Double glazing specialist Penicuik is pulling out of its show-centre site at Dobbies Garden Centre in Lasswade.

The company, which is currently looking for other suitable sites throughout Scotland, will be revamping its other show villages in Glasgow and Penicuik to include additional product ranges.

Penicuik has decided that the showcentre is too close to its show village at Penicuik to make it viable.