Yet when he rose to speak ahead of dinner for 100 client and staff guests on November 29, L&T vice-chairman Paul Roberts was quick to highlight the firm’s international dimension.
He was speaking in the main auditorium of L&T’s neoclassical Edinburgh HQ, the former Broughton Place Church featured in the 1981 Oscar-winning movie Chariots of Fire.
Roberts reminded his audience of the rationale, back in 1999, behind a group of ex- Phillips auctioneers acquiring the L&T brand name. He and his ex-Phillips colleagues had purchased that venerable auction name from a business founded in 1826 but defunct by the late 1990s. “Our intention was to create an international auction house for Scotland,” Roberts recalled. Others could judge whether that goal had been achieved, he said.
Beyond its roots
If the nationality of L&T’s staff is any measure, the firm has indeed moved beyond its roots in Edinburgh, Glasgow and London. Roberts counted up the number of US staff in the UK and “colleagues who are German, Lithuanian, Italian, French, Taiwanese and Chinese nationals, not to mention one or two English men [including Roberts himself, despite the tartan attire on the night] and English women scattered here and there”.
To underscore the point, speeches included a congratulatory video from Freeman’s of Philadelphia, L&T’s US partner. The good wishes were delivered by Edinburgh-born Alasdair Nichol, Freeman’s chairman — dressed in a kilt, of course.