Lee Young, owner of Dore & Rees in Frome.

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In the 1980s Mark Rees purchased the business and added his name to the door and continued the tradition of fortnightly sales of antiques, furniture and collectables.

George Withers was a long-standing client of the firm and Rees remembers him from his days as a porter.

In 2021 Rees was wondering what to do with the business and had thought about selling up and converting the premises into town houses.

Lee Young, then managing director at Duke’s in Dorset, became a regular at the saleroom after moving to the area, and heard about Rees’ idea. Young quickly came up with a business plan to buy the firm. The deal was drawn up and agreed within six months.

Young says: “I had in the back of my mind that one day I might set up on my own. But it felt right to take over an established firm rather than setting one up from scratch. This business really is a unique find. There are very few auction houses like Dore & Rees that have been in the same building in the same town for so long with a great reputation locally.”

He adds: “In my career I have had amazing chances, such as when I went to America, so I always seize opportunities. I knew this wouldn’t come round again.”

When Young became involved the auction house did not have any online presence and its fortnightly auctions were held in the same time-honoured fashion. It had never sold a six-figure lot, had handwritten receipts and did not offer single-owner sales. Young and the team have launched a new website with online bidding available via several platforms.


The Dore & Rees saleroom.

Strong growth

Marking three years of the ‘new’ business in April, Young says it has witnessed “seismic growth”.

Alongside the original team, including Rees and saleroom manager Guy Tayler, Young is working with Antiques Roadshow colleagues who have come on board as consultants including Susan Rumfitt (jewellery), Mark Allum (collectables) and Duncan Campbell (silver) as well as Lynn Strover who came with him from Duke’s to run client development. A recent tie-up with Argent, a probate and insurance valuations firm, allowed the firm to hold its first sale in Hong Kong in February.

But for Young the main attraction of the firm is the historic building which is “the heart of the business” and the town of Frome which is a “great place to be and work”. He adds: “It is such a friendly town where everyone pitches in and helps.”