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Mr Nicholson told the ATG the additional charges are necessary to counter the downturn in the furniture market and the need to be aggressive on vendor’s charges.

“Furniture sales have fallen so much and we have to replace the income. We are selling perhaps a third of the material we sold two to three years ago.” This year he has plans to sell 1950s and 60s furnishings four times a year. He added: “We are also in a very competitive marketplace. I am surrounded by auction houses that are cutting vendor’s commission and in order to keep up I have to make up the difference by charging the buyer.”

Helped by the sale of a Francis Hayman conversation piece Group portrait of the Samuel Richardson family, for a record-breaking £540,000 on November 24, total sales at these Surrey rooms last year were £3.4m.