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The big question…


Elizabeth Talbot, auction rooms director, TW Gaze, Diss, Norfolk

“I believe Diss Auction Rooms are distinctive among our genre. We prioritise human interaction over faceless technology, with large numbers of people coming to view and attend on sale day. We attract a constant and eclectic supply of goods with instruction to sell, which requires plenty of auction events.

“So every year we host 52 weekly sale days, most averaging over 2000 lots divided into four or five carefully defined sale areas. We also hold more than 20 special-category Saturday sales, and an increasing number of Thursday evening specialist sales as well.

“All this creates a virtuous circle: we benefit from a system of weekly sales – in operation for many decades – because it sits comfortably and reliably in the regular rhythm of people’s routines. This in turn ensures dependable cash-flow, which is essential for our particular business model.

“Our short-term aim is to increase the number of auction opportunities we present for both buyers and sellers and are about to embark on the building of a new saleroom to help facilitate this.”


Guy Schooling, managing director, Sworders, Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex

“Thirty-something years ago I changed our fortnightly general sales into weekly sales. It was a way to match our opposition.

“But with the changing market it became apparent we were turning away as many goods as we were selling. The weekly sales, now called Homes and Interiors sales, quite suddenly became smaller, with 300 lots, not 600-800 and the quality poorer. This meant they were less of a draw, and a vicious circle was in danger of taking hold.

“Amid some scepticism from colleagues, I pushed for a change back to fortnightly sales. Why? To increase the quality and quantity of goods on offer, but principally to enable us to install live bidding via thesaleroom.com.

“It has been a success. The auctions have been reinvigorated, vendors are happy to consign to the Homes and Interiors auctions and valuers are happy for the clients’ goods to be included because they know they will be marketed to a global audience.

“The additional investment we have made in these auctions has been repaid several times over.”