Friday - 19 September 2014

British auction houses announce ambitious expansion plans

14 August 2012Written by ATG Reporter

Regional auctioneers are showing their confidence in the future as they embark upon new building projects.

Shrewsbury-based Halls have started work on a multi-million-pound headquarters, while work at Europe's largest straw-bale building will see  Sworders extend their floor space by 50%.

Meanwhile,  Special Auction Services (SAS) of Newbury have just announced they have secured a second property.

Halls, a multi-discipline company of estate agents, chartered surveyors and auctioneers in livestock, machinery and fine art, are hoping to move from Welsh Bridge in Shrewsbury to the Battlefield area of the town early next year. The 20,000 sq ft building will have two fine art salerooms - one for selling, one for set-up - plus dedicated offices and storage space.

The new site, easily accessible from the A49 and M54, is next to the Shrewsbury Auction Centre, used for Halls' livestock sales, and includes around 150 car-parking spaces.

Halls' fine art director Jeremy Lamond said he was "hugely excited" at the prospect of a move planned for February 2013. "We have been pressing for new fine art salerooms for the past decade and finally the new-build project is coming to fruition," he said. "While our present town centre headquarters are in a beautiful setting, they are entirely impracticable for a modern auctioneering business." 

Sworder's Saleroom

Work is under way in Stansted Mountfitchet to extend Sworders' saleroom.

The original saleroom was designed, built and officially opened just four years ago. But Sworders' rapid expansion, and its continued development of online bidding, mean that the building is no longer big enough for the storage and sale of items.

When it opened in 2008, the saleroom was already the largest straw-bale building in Europe. Despite overseas attempts to break the record, the building has kept the title and now it will become even larger.

Sworders' managing director Guy Schooling said: "As auctioneers we see ourselves as part of the recycling industry. We pass items on from people who no longer require them to new owners who pay good money to receive them. So to have our flagship saleroom built in such an environmentally-friendly technique reflects the very nature of what we do."

The building work will reduce access to the rear of the Sworders' site in Stansted Mountfitchet this summer and autumn. The new facility is expected to be fully operational by Christmas.

SAS has acquired an extra 4500 sq ft unit at Greenham Business Park, its base since 2010.

The firm is well-known for specialist sales but they say an increasing demand for more general antiques and collectables is behind the expansion, with new sales on the first Tuesday of every month, starting on October 2.

As reported in June, Tennants have brought forward plans to create a new wing at The Auction Centre, the purpose-built venue just outside Leyburn that has often been described as a model for the UK regional saleroom. They are set to start construction at the beginning of 2013.

Hansons in Etwall, Derbyshire, Sheffield Auction Gallery and Adam Partridge in Macclesfield are all regional auction firms who have moved to purpose-built premises in the past year.

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