LAWRENCES Auctioneers in Crewkerne has been bought by Auctionet, the web-based auction system for online and hammer auctions.
The acquisition by the Swedish-owned firm comes 30 years after a management buyout at the South Somerset business.
The long-established Lawrences, which operates from a large town centre, 19th Century building, boasts a dedicated team of specialists whose expertise covers almost 300 years in the industry.
The firm offers more than 50,000 lots per year from departments such as silver, ceramics, furniture, pictures, jewellery, militaria, collectors and sporting items and books.
Niklas Söderholm, co-founder and chief executive of Auctionet, said: “The acquisition of Lawrences Auctioneers, one of the UK’s most prominent and well-known auction houses, is an exciting milestone for both Auctionet and Lawrences Auctioneers.
“With this partnership we will strengthen our position in the UK market and help Lawrences implement an online strategy that is well proven across our group of European auction houses.”
Lawrences chairman and managing director Helen Carless said: “I have been managing director at Lawrences for more than 30 years, since I led a management buyout in 1992.
“Auctionet is a dream partner with whom to continue to develop the business and it is with great confidence I entrust Lawrences to the new owners.
“I am certain that it will flourish in Auctionet’s care.”
Ms Carless will continue as chairman and managing director with the current board of directors also remaining in place.
Auctionet was founded in 2011 and has since grown with more than 50 partner auction houses, operating in six countries.
It sells more than 500,000 lots annually with auctions taking place 365 days of the year.
Mr Söderholm added: “A digital presence has never been more important and the transition of traditional hammer auctions to pure online solution has been pioneered by Auctionet.
“We are now able to provide our partnered auction houses with a truly integrated auction management and logistics package that enables local auctioneers to have a global reach.
“With a 40 per cent increase in web traffic over the past 12 months, online auctions are now being established as a key component for auctioneers.
Tom Österman, co-founder and responsible for Auctionet’s UK operations, said: “The announcement of our latest acquisition is a pivotal point in Auctionet’s expansion in the UK and amplifies our commitment of building a full-scale online presence for our partnered auctioneers.”