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Michael Roberts is joining Mitchells.

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PFK was founded in 1876 as a livestock mart and expanded over the years into separate businesses of antiques and chattels auctions, estate and land agency and planning.

PFK’s antiques auction business held its final sale ending on September 6 as a timed online auction and the Skirsgill saleroom will close on October 19. The wider property company will continue to trade.

‘Wider restructuring’

In a statement the company said: “As part of a wider restructuring process, the board of directors… have decided to close the company’s auction department.

“All vendor accounts from this (last) sale will be settled within usual timeframes and we would like to reassure vendors that we operate a separate client account. Purchasers are requested to make arrangements to collect their goods promptly, while unsold items will either be returned to vendors or transferred to Mitchells for sale as appropriate. All the staff at PFK Auctioneers would like to thank our clients for their support over the years.”

Michael Roberts, PFK’s head of department, is joining Mitchells of Cockermouth in October as head of fine art and furniture, working alongside Mark Wise who is moving to a part-time position. PFK has agreed a referral deal with Mitchells for all valuations, contents sales and house clearance instructions.

Roberts, who had been at PFK for five years, was previously a director at The Canterbury Auction Galleries where he worked for 10 years.

He said: “I am excited to be heading up Mitchells and to have the opportunity to further develop their excellent business. Succeeding Mark Wise will be a tough act to follow but I’m confident in my ability to further fine-tune this much-loved institution.”

‘Leading auction force’

“I am a great believer in offering a comprehensive auction service and while I shall maintain and enhance Mitchells’ strong reputation for fine art and antiques, I will also work on growing the business from house clearances up and nurturing popular specialist sale categories such as watches, wine and mid-century furniture, as well as developing timed online sales. I am looking forward to the business being a leading auction force across northern Britain.”

Wise, who has been with Mitchells since 1987, added: “I have been looking for a suitable successor for a number of years and am confident that Michael can build on our achievements.

“I am very much looking forward to working with him and helping take the business to the next level. I will be remaining on Mitchells’ board of directors and will still maintain an active role in the business concentrating in particular on the major fine art sales.”

PFK has enjoyed some memorable sales in the fine art arena. Famously in 2006, a box of daguerreotypes taken in Italy, France and Switzerland around 1850 was competed way above expectations to £75,000. They were in the main taken by their former owner, the 19th century critic John Ruskin.