Hansons Auctioneers expands to London in bid to bring Derbyshire warmth to the capital
Charismatic auctioneer Charles Hanson is fulfilling a long-held dream this year by expanding his Derbyshire business to London – and he’s looking forward to giving the big boys a run for their money.
Already, Hansons London consignment office has opened in Hampton Court Village, a London team has been appointed and the first auction will take place at Teddington’s Normansfield Theatre on February 10.
“I would love to take on a slice of Christie’s South Kensington business,” said Charles, an entrepreneur who makes no secret of the fact that turning 40 this year has played a part in triggering his push to grow his business.
“I’m an ambitious man and I’ll be 40 in May. If I don’t do it now, I never will. There is a niche in London for our service – that is auctioneering with a passion, great customer care and selling with an element of theatre and drama.
“I’ve been thinking of this for three or four years, waiting for colleagues to become available.
“Hopefully my business plan is secure. Coming to London is a risk but life is short. And London’s only a couple of hours away by train from Derbyshire.”
Charles, 39, who famously started his business from his bedroom before launching Hansons Auctioneers in Etwall, near Derby, in 2005, knows he will face fierce competition in London but believes Hansons will bring something new to the market.
“I can’t be bothered having a façade in Mayfair – I’d rather do business in the office in Hampton Court and be welcoming to local people.
“That element can be lost in those slick, front-of-house desks which many people find off-putting. There’s no real fun in London auctioneering now but we’ll bring that to the capital from Derbyshire.”
Charles, a familiar face on TV shows such as Bargain Hunt and Celebrity Antiques Road Trip, can certainly deliver saleroom drama. He is a master at the art of auctioneering – an entertainer who can have an audience entranced with his quick wit and repartee.
Often, clients ask specifically for him to auction their items, or use Hansons because they enjoy watching him on television.
He has fans all over the world who love his TV appearances and follow him on social media. People from as far away as Australia have been known to make their way to his Derbyshire auction house just to shake his hand.
“I never take that for granted. I feel very fortunate,” said Charles. “I am a humble man.”
But the humble man is also an astute businessman who, according to his staff, rarely sleeps. He never stops working and his business has grown exponentially in recent years. So, for them, the move to London is no surprise.
“I’m going into territory far from Derbyshire, but I do have contacts and have nurtured business in London over the years,” said Charles.
“Our move south will give clients alternatives. Auctioneering has gone down the technology route but you still need to undress the process and you do that by giving an air of theatre and warmth to the art of selling.
“Hansons consistently has more online bidders all over the world than all auction houses using the-saleroom.com. But as our business goes further down the technology line, I strongly believe there’s room to bring the theatre of auction house selling back to the people.”
Hansons Derbyshire is funding the expansion and has appointed Chris Kirkham as associate director of the London operation and Sue Haswell as business development consultant.
“We’re starting from scratch and building slowly to create contacts and business,” said Charles.
“I don’t want to go in at the deep end in a market I don’t know very well. The secret will be to keep our overheads down.
“Our Surrey consignment office is in not in the city but Teddington is an affluent region and I look forward to seeing what people want to buy and sell.
“I want to work across London within a year and hold valuations further afield. But for the first 12 months our HQ will be Teddington with a consignment office in Hampton Court Village.
“We have a lease, shared with a charity, on Normansfield Theatre, where we will host our auctions, and a Hampton Court Village shop lease. We’ll have weekly celebrity valuation days there with Kate Bliss, Marc Allum and Adam Schoon, among others. I will be at the Hampton Court office every month.
“In London, we’ll be aiming for lot values above £80 and sales with 400 lots per month.
“We’ll have a van moving between London and Derbyshire and if we feel London is more suitable for some Derbyshire consignments, for example Asian and Indian objects, we’ll bring them down south. Ultimately, we want to host more specialist sales in London.
“Building the brand down south won’t happen overnight. It will be about maximising finds and giving them a life – hoping that local media and newspapers will give us some coverage, and social media of course.
“We’ll also be working with charities and good causes to push ourselves out and beyond.
“I hope we’ll win repeat business by giving people a warm reception when they come to consign or buy. There is scope for that in London. The city is so dense with auctioneers but I think it can be a lonely place and we don’t want to be seen as a lonely service.
“Ultimately, the friendly Derbyshire approach, personal service and being a company that cares has got us this far. I think our ethos will be something people in London and the south will come to appreciate.”
Hansons London Hampton Court Village Fine Arts and Consignment Office is at 77 Bridge Road, KT8 9HH. It hosts free valuations on Wednesdays and Fridays from 10am-4pm. Valuations will also be available on auction days at the Normansfield Theatre, Langdon Down Centre, 2A Langdon Park, Teddington, TW11 9PS. To find out more, call 020 8979 7954 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
All Photos © Hansons
‘We were praying for success!’ Debut auction at Hansons London sees THOUSANDS paid for copy of the Quran
Hansons London’s first auction soared to success in front of a huge crowd who saw a copy of the Quran smash its estimate to sell for £6,500 – the top price paid at the sale.
The late 19th century, leather-bound religious Islamic text had a guide price of £100-£200 but, like several items at the inaugural auction, it reached heady heights.
More than 500 lots went under the hammer, it was standing room only in the saleroom, the Normansfield Theatre in Teddington, and hundreds registered to bid online.
Chris Kirkham, associate director for Hansons London, said: “Our first auction on February 10 was a great success. It exceeded all our expectations and we were delighted.
“Though Hansons is a long-established auction house name, we are new to the London area and it speaks volumes about the company’s reputation that we received such a warm welcome.
“More than 140 people came to enjoy the auction room atmosphere and there were plenty of bidders in the saleroom and online.
“This is the first of many monthly auctions for Hansons London and we’re looking forward to making our March 24 auction an even bigger success.”
Hansons London was launched in January by auctioneer and TV personality Charles Hanson as an expansion of his Derbyshire business, Hansons Auctioneers.
He said: “We were praying for success at our first auction and those prayers were answered.
“Our sale really was full of the magic and sparkle of true auction fever. The room was electric with an audience hungry to bid and, with over 500 online bidders, we sold to buyers in Quatar, Russia, the USA, Turkey, Germany and Brazil.
“We saw a high sold rate and some staggering results in Teddington. Our auction will march forward. It really was a case of ‘Ready, Teddi (ngton) … Go’ – the world is watching us!
“It’s always been a dream of mine to expand to London. I wanted to bring the theatre, drama and passion of the auction room to the capital, together with our professional, approachable and friendly Derbyshire-born ethos.
More than 500 lots were sold out of a total of 564. Star lots included a Chinese Doucai Yen Yen vase, which sold for £3,800; 19th century Chinese peach blossom dishes which sold for £1,100 from an estimate of £500-£800, and a Chinese Famille Rose Rouleau vase, which soared to £3,600 from a £300-£500 estimate.
a Robert Taylor Carson oil painting which sold £800 above estimate at £2,000 and a jimbaya dagger which was contested to £2,400 from an estimate of £50-£100.
Another item which soared to success was a collection of Islamic metalware which sold for £2,100 from an estimate of £80-£120. Another item which smashed its estimate was a selection of Chinese and Japanese scrolls, contested to £2,500 from an estimate of £70-£100.