Auction rooms buy that brings agent full circle

Christopher Clarke (Left) of Clarke & Simpson at the former Abbotts Auction house in Campsea Ashe th

Christopher Clarke (Left) of Clarke & Simpson at the former Abbotts Auction house in Campsea Ashe that the company will shortly be taking over. Pictured outside the old cattle auction with Auction Centre Manager Geoff Barfoot

An estate agent is set to celebrate his ‘homecoming’ as his firm buys up the auction rooms and yard where he started out as a young trainee.

Christopher Clarke of Framlingham-based chartered surveyors Clarke & Simpson, is looking forward to returning to his roots at the end of this month when the company officially takes over an historic auction site in Campsea Ashe.

All the 19 saleroom staff, currently employed by Abbotts Countrywide, will transfer over to Clarke & Simpson when the deal is signed and sealed on August 30.

Although Abbotts is selling the sale room and its residential/agricultural management business to Clarke & Simpson, it is still very much remaining a presence in the region with its estate agency and financial services continuing as normal.

In the meantime, it is business as usual at the auction rooms, with an era ending when Abbotts holds its last sale on Monday, and a new era beginning when Clarke & Simpson holds its first auction sale on September 2.

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“The rest of Abbotts’ business, as part of Countrywide is continuing of course,” said Mr Clarke, who is returning to the site 42 years after he started out as a student on the site with Spear & Sons, which subsequently became part of Abbotts.

Michael Spear, who took him on as a young man, was his mentor, and it was his grandfather who started that business in 1922.

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“It’s a very nice full circle for me. “I’m hugely excited,” he said.

Mr Clarke launched his own business in 1989, and this became Clarke & Simpson.

The sale deal resulted from an approach three months ago from Countrywide, he explained.

“We were approached by Countrywide who own Abbotts who said it doesn’t now fit in with their business, but they don’t want it to close,” he explained.

“They were keen for us to buy and we were then keen to negotiate and take it on and take the staff on board.”

Clarke & Simpson holds farm machinery sales on farms. Its auctions business will be running the sale rooms and it means that it will be able to expand into the furniture and fittings sales for which the Campsea Ashe site is well known.

It has also bought a residential lettings arm in Wickham Market as part of the deal, and the one person involved there will be relocating to Framlingham.

“This is a great opportunity,” said Mr Clarke.

“Being strong locally and already involved in residential/agricultural management and property/machinery auctions, being able to add sale rooms will add a further dimension to our business.”

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