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“This was a situation where the owner, Martin Taylor, wished to retire and we were happy to take over the running the business,” said chief executive Michael Thoms. The takeover means the cancellation of the July 26 sale while Mr Taylor’s replacement is appointed. The first sale under new management is scheduled for September 27.

The acquisition means that the group now have salerooms on the east and western borders of Devon, having purchased Robin A. Fenner’s of Tavistock in March. They also own Eastbourne auction house Edgar Horns as well as Brackett’s of Tunbridge Wells.

It is Mr Thoms’ intention to purchase several more auction houses by the end of the year.