Smith and Sons holds first online auction in 180 years

Birkenhead-based Smith and Sons is the second Merseyside auction house to go digital due to the coronavirus restrictions. Tony McDonough reports

Chris Johnson
Smith and Sons director, Chris Johnson


Wirral property firm Smith and Sons has held its first-ever online auction in its almost 180-year history, raising £1.7m.

News of the successful auction on July 1 comes just weeks after Liverpool-based Sutton Kersh held its first-ever online auction, raising £7m and attracting an audience from across the UK.

Smith and Sons, based in Birkenhead, usually holds its auctions at the Village Hotel in Bromborough but the coronavirus lockdown made this impossible, prompting the decision to take the event online.

On the day, 38 lots were offered with buyers either bidding online or using proxy and telephone bidding, and 22 lots were sold. Smith and Sons director, Chris Johnson, said: “Due to the Covid epidemic and Government guidelines, we had no alternative other than to conduct this auction online.  It was uncharted territory for all of us and a huge shift away from the traditional auction room.

“However, it was a definite success in the amount of interest it generated and the number of lots sold. The process was simple and transparent and following a huge amount of work to establish this online platform, this may well be a permanent model that we adapt and continue.”

Just like conventional auctions, there was lively and competitive bidding on several lots resulting in prices achieved well in excess of the guide figures. A three bedroomed house in Bebington, requiring some refurbishment, sold for £116,000 against a guide of £95,000.

And a Grade I-listed office building in Hamilton Square sold for £240,000. Despite current retail gloom, four shops in Birkenhead and Wallasey were sold with a unit in Seaview Road, Wallasey selling for £77,500 against a guide of £50,000.

Smith and Sons is already accepting lots for its next auction in September.

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