SDL Group doubles auction operation with another major acquisition


Following their recent acquisition of property auction house Bigwood, the SDL Group has continued to grow its presence in property auctions through the acqusition of the largest and most successful auction house in the East Midlands, Graham Penny.

Graham Penny Auctions hold regular auctions in Derby, Leicester and Nottingham and this move will make the SDL Group’s auction operation the largest in the UK outside of London.

The acquisition will double the total sales of the Group’s auction division to more than £160 million per annum, taking it in to the top four nationwide.

The SDL Group, the national property services group with interests in surveying, valuations, lettings and estate agency, has engineered and funded the acquisition to further enhance the group’s financial strength and to help Bigwood and Graham Penny to build nationally.

The announcement that the two auction houses are to become part of one group comes as both have just delivered record results at their first events in 2016.

In February Graham Penny Auctions held three auctions in Leicester, Nottingham and Derby, raising £14 million across more than 130 lots, while Bigwood’s February auction at Aston Villa FC saw 138 lots offered and over £17.5 million realised.

Graham Penny Auctions has been the most successful auction house in the East Midlands each year since its inception in 2006. In 2015 the firm raised more than £72.6 million from 22 auctions across the East Midlands.

In 2015, Bigwood sold more than £77 million worth of property across six auctions, £15 million more than 2014, averaging an 88 per cent sale success rate across the year.

Rory Daly, Chief Executive Officer of Bigwood said: “This marks the next step in the evolution of SDL’s strategy to build the leading national auction brand, starting with last year’s acquisition of Bigwood and now this exciting move to bring the Graham Penny business into the group. This acquisition catapults the combined businesses to aggregate annual sales revenues of over £160m and places us in the top four of all such firms in the UK.

The acquisition makes perfect sense for both parties, and gives us unparalleled coverage of the Midlands region. Our combined operation is also now by some distance the largest auction house outside of London and enables us to offer extensive coverage to all our regular clients, including local authorities, institutions and our investor clients.”

Paul Gratton, Chief Executive Officer of the SDL Group, said: “When we acquired Bigwood we said we were intending to build on the existing strengths of the business – auctions and property management.

This is the first of a number of acquisitions we have in the pipeline and under consideration, and gives us a real auction powerhouse across the UK.

SDL is a fast-paced, successful growing property services group which has more than quadrupled its turnover in the last five years and remains extremely ambitious.”

The deal will see shareholder and co-founder James Cockayne retire, while John Fearnehough and Graham Penny will continue with the business as consultants. The business will be run by managing director Andrew Parker, who will report to Rory Daly.

Andrew Parker said: “The operations of both groups overlap without competing and by working together we will be able to secure additional benefits and operating efficiencies. The financial strength, entrepreneurial prowess and logistical support provided by the SDL Group will enable the business to develop its market leading proposition as well as to continue the significant growth it has achieved over the past decade.”

Rory Daly paid tribute to the individuals behind the success of the East Midlands’ pre-eminent auction house: “Graham, Andy, John and James have done a hugely impressive job, as have their teams, of building a successful and reputable business at Graham Penny.

We are really looking forward to working with them to help support their growth plans as well as using the Group’s combined reach in terms of winning new corporate partnerships and building deeper relationships with current business partners.

Our acquisition by the SDL Group has given us the firepower to make strategic acquisitions in our core service areas, and we will have more announcements to make as the year progresses.”

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