That was when he realised something was amiss at the Suffolk saleroom. Specifically, something was not quite right about the auction house’s premises: space. Lack of.
His mid-drive inspiration caused Crichton to get an expansion plan into gear at LSK and it has just launched the improved facilities: essentially, a 2500sq ft glass box at a cost of about £350,000 which should make it far easier to do business.
“It was driving back from an appointment one day, very frustrated as much as anything that we had nowhere to look after clients,” says Crichton. “We didn’t have a client room, or anywhere to take them. I would often end up in delicate conversations at the end of my desk, with colleagues on neighbouring desks and customers coming in and out.
We see it very much as a plus being part of the fabric of Bury St Edmunds
“The need was there – we have grown over the last 10 years, doubled turnover, significantly raised the number of lots we have sold, introduced specialist sales, but through that period our ability to just look after clients on a one-to-one basis hadn’t improved.”
As with most of these projects, planning and details took a lot of time. However, four years later, LSK has fresh facilities and the two existing salerooms are also being renovated.
The premises now has a new reception between the salerooms along with office space, client rooms, “big cataloguing rooms and, possibly most importantly and finally, decent toilets,” Crichton says.
Like many auctioneers, he adds, LSK has had to move into the 21st century and give the general public and the trade what they really want today: a comfortable environment to consign and buy in.
The extension to its existing base means LSK is not joining the exodus of salerooms to the outer limits of towns but rather keeping its original location.
“We are very much in the town centre but we are lucky in having our own car park of about 40 spaces as well as borough car parks nearby,” says Crichton. “We see it very much as a plus being part of the fabric of Bury St Edmunds, which is a wonderful town.”
No dramatic changes will take place to the sales calendar immediately, although LSK plans to introduce two new sporting sales a year – “which we are well placed in East Anglia to do,” adds Crichton. The auction house will also develop jewellery and watches “but probably not initially with standalone sales”.