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Sales as a whole will cease at Chester at the end of November - the last will be a multi-discipline fine art and antiques sale on November 21 - but it will remain as an important consignment centre.

While the region remains a strong sourcing ground for art and antiques, Bonhams say the larger part of business in the North West region is now derived from transferring items to salerooms in London and elsewhere.

The development of their large new modern auction facility at Oxford in 2008, which hosts collectors' car and motorcycle sales in addition to auctions across the spectrum of main disciplines, meant that in the long run the company were unlikely to need other large salerooms in the north.

The Knowle saleroom closed at the end of 2011 with operations transferring to Oxford, and Bonhams now operate from four UK salerooms: Edinburgh, Oxford and two in London.

New Premises

While there are no immediate plans to move from the Chester showroom - a former Art Deco cinema with room for four salerooms - it will be sold when new premises, suitable for sourcing, a valuation office and a team of around five regional representatives, have been found.

Bonhams say most of the specialists, including oak and vernacular specialist David Houlston, are staying with the company.

Separately, Bonhams are to close their Southport satellite office - also at the end of the year - and transfer the business to their Manchester office.

The company have also announced that they are changing the thresholds of their buyer's premium, effective from September 30. This follows similar changes by Christie's and Sotheby's earlier this year which, for the first time in recent years meant that there are now differences between the two.

Bonhams have chosen to match the main structure selected by Sotheby's, which now stands at 25% on the first £50,000/$100,000, 20% from £50,001/$100,000 to £1m/$2m, and then 12% above that.