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The deal gives Halls three bases – Chester in the north and their fine art office in Kidderminster in the south with their main saleroom at Shrewsbury between the two.

Mr Allen revealed to the Antiques Trade Gazette that the deal was struck after he approached the Williams. Halls will retain all the Boothmans staff, although Peter Williams will leave at the end of July to pursue other interests and Halls will also look to employ a saleroom manager to replace him.

Mr Allen made it clear that Chester will stand in its own right, and not merely be used to feed the firm’s other salerooms: “You can’t see the success of a saleroom if you just use it to feed another”. The Chester rooms will cover a broad range of disciplines, as Shrewsbury, but with their town centre location and lack of easy loading facilities, they will specialise in small portable items, such as jewellery.

Halls will also install a furniture store there to make it easier to prepare for and wind up sales.

The first sale there under the Halls banner takes place on June 18, 1999.