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As a result of a deal signed on Friday, October 31, Dreweatt Neate Fine Art of Donnington Priory will leave their parent company Dreweatt Neate Property Consultants to become the leading player in the Fine Art Auction Group portfolio.

The move brings to seven the number of southern English fine art and antiques auctioneers that share the green logo and should more than double the turnover of a concern established less than two years ago.

Mike Thoms, chief executive of the Fine Art Auction Group, expressed great satisfaction at the merger – a term both sides prefer to ‘acquisition’ – that brings a blue chip-brand into the mix: “We are delighted to join forces with Dreweatt Neate Fine Art,” he said. “Clive Stewart-Lockhart and his team have a reputation that is second to none in the UK fine art market. The addition of the Dreweatt Neate saleroom and the expertise of the Donnington Priory staff will bring huge benefits to clients in all of the group’s salerooms.”

According to the terms of a long-negotiated deal, Mr Stewart-Lockhart, former partner at Dreweatt Neate, will join the board of the Fine Art Auction Group and will continue to run operations at Donnington Priory with partners Richard Slater and Elaine Binning.

Richard Liddiard, managing partner of Dreweatt Neate Property Consultants, will also join the board as a non-executive director. His role ensures that both Dreweatt Neate Property Consultants and Dreweatt Neate Fine Art will continue to work closely together – a relationship that has been key to the creation of a business that ranks alongside Gorringe’s, Tennant’s and Woolley & Wallis as one of the ‘big four’ provincial auctioneers.

Last year Dreweatt Neate’s sales included a £1.56m dispersal of contents from Donnington Grove, including a George III giltwood and specimen marble-topped side table (later attributed to William Chambers) sold at £350,000.

For Dreweatt Neate the merger represents a fresh approach to the development of their business. In 2000 they sold their Banbury operations back to Holloways and more recently rationalised their Newbury operations with some redundancies while refurbishing the Donnington Priory salerooms that are among the finest in the country.

Commenting on the agreement, Mr Stewart-Lockhart said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for the Dreweatt Neate Fine Art business. It will enable us to strengthen the service we provide to existing Dreweatt Neate clients and add value to other parts of the group’s business.”

The cross-fertilisation of contacts and expertise is certainly something both the Donnington Priory Salerooms and their new cousins will be hoping to exploit in the battle for business in the provinces.

Bruce Cairnduff, marketing director of the Group, described the new deal as a key strategic move: a brand known by buyers of art and antiques far outside its Home Counties hinterland and a link between the group’s other businesses situated in the south-east and the south-west of England. “We are no longer looking to plug geographical gaps… although that doesn’t discount any new acquisitions in the future. We are, however, well ahead of schedule for our five-year business plan.” No decision has yet been made on the future role of the Dreweatt Neate name in the group, although Mr Cairnduff agrees it is a brand strong enough to be used in other areas of the business.

The Fine Art Auction Group portfolio now includes Dreweatt Neate, Bristol Auction Rooms, Bracketts in Tunbridge Wells, Edgar Horns in Eastbourne, Salehurst in Ninfield, Honiton Galleries in Honiton and Robin A. Fenner in Tavistock.