With its gavel already coming down on more than £3 million of annual sales, Stroud Auction Rooms is on the verge of a major investment which will see its business double its turnover.
From humble beginnings and a modest £250,000 annually just over a decade ago, Nick Bowkett and his team has established a family business of significant experts with a solid gold reputation.
Its expertise in everything from vintage vehicles, military items, toys, glass, stamps and jewellery to armaments, art, coins, records and ceramics, together with the business’s early decision to embrace on-line, is what is seeing it draw away from the pack.
So much so, its growth pre-pandemic gave it the confidence to make a very major investment in a purpose-built headquarters, just down the road from its current Bath Road home.
‘We recently had confirmation that Stroud Auction Rooms has some of the highest online bidding figures in the country – top five according to the saleroom.com,’ said Mr Bowkett, who said the significant ranking had taken one or two larger competitors from out of county by surprise.
‘We also have planning permission for a new auction house on a two-acre site off Horse Trough roundabout. The aim is to double turnover in the next four to five years.
‘The building has been designed and we would be underway already, if it were not for covid.’
The new premises, off Ebley Road, Stonehouse, will have parking for 60-plus vehicles and 20 bicycles with staff numbers expected to increase from 11 full and part time staff to 14. Stroud Auction Rooms worked with Anderson Architects of Nailsworth on the project.
Online selling has dominated since the pandemic hit – with its rooms closed to public sales – but the firm is now excited about re-opening and one of its early events is already catching the eye.
‘We have a very unusual and rare collection of vintage tractors and signage,’ he said of one of the star-turns up ahead in July, clearly as excited by the thought.
An earlier auction in April 2021, will include an eclectic mix, from a vintage American Fender Telecaster guitar from 1952 to a British Army Waterloo Medal, a Colt Navy .36 single action revolver, a pair of flintlock holster pistols, and vinyl record collections, including a collectable Pink Floyd Demo record of a song called Apples and Oranges.
A video on LinkedIn showing off some of the tractor collection is presented by Alexandra Bowkett.
‘My daughter is our jewellery expert,’ said Mr Bowkett, explaining that Alexandra was also qualified in her chosen specialism – a Diamond Graduate and Fellow of the Gemmological Association – and that it was this kind of expertise among all staff which has grown Stroud Auction Rooms reputation.
‘She had an amethyst broach come in recently which another auctioneer had valued at £1,000. Alex took one look at it and said it was actually a sapphire. It sold for £16,000 in the end,’ he said.
This ability and attention to detail is what allows them to unearth the otherwise unrecognised treasures within the estates they help value, properly identify the items put before them and collections they are trusted with.
By Andrew Merrell