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The concept, pioneered in the USA, was to help consumers sell unwanted possessions on eBay for a percentage. Selling the unwanted stock of high street retailers soon followed.

The first shop was opened in West London in April 2003. At the height of their activity they had 13 locations (11 in Greater London, one in Manchester and one in Brighton) and a fleet of four home collection vans.

However the closure of Clockworx (the Auctioning4u brand was sold at the end of 2007) calls into question the future of eBay drop-off franchises.

Christian Braun, co-founder and CEO of ClockWorx Ltd, issued a statement following the closure in which he blamed the company failure on a number of factors.

ClockWorx (the name refers to a bespoke software package) had, he said, experienced great difficulties in attracting vendors of saleable merchandise from among the general public.

“Ultimately, we found only the relocation market [vendors who decide everything must go before they leave the country] to be attractive,” he said.

Issues also arose when selling the problem stock (returns and overstock) for retailers including non-paying bidders (that had risen to 15 per cent) and eBay’s VeRO programme (that allows brand owners to stop sales if they believe items are counterfeits or infringing trademarks).