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The change, which has come into immediate effect, gives Mr Stones an operation that covers Cheshire and Staffordshire, as well as stretching further afield.

Louis Taylor Director Patrick Doherty FRICS said: "The retirement of our auctioneer Clive Hillier coincided with the end of the lease on the old basement saleroom at 10 Town Road Hanley, and we are keen to ensure that our fine arts clientele continue to receive the expert advice and integrity of service they expect of Louis Taylor.

"Robert will soon be holding weekly valuation days - "Valuation Fridays" - in Hanley as a service to Louis Taylor clients old and new, and will quickly establish a new saleroom in the Potteries, whilst continuing to trade as Peter Wilson in Cheshire."

Mr Stones added: "Louis Taylor's auctions serve an area steeped in the history of ceramics manufacture among other things and I know its customers and supporters would want the firm's long tradition of auctioneering excellence to continue. I am honoured to have the opportunity to make that happen."

He told ATG that they had already recruited staff to handle enquiries and valuation duties in the Potteries and surrounding area and looked forward to opening a brand new Louis Taylor saleroom as soon as suitable premises have been secured.

"In the meantime, antiques, fine art and collectors' items sent for sale by Louis Taylor's clients will be sold in Nantwich. However, the two firms will continue as separate entities in their own rights."