Aylsham saleyard pledge after merger of Keys and Arnolds

Aylsham's auction saleground is set for improvements following a merger between its owners Keys and Norwich-based property firm Arnolds.

The busy yard, which is a traditional hub for sales of everything from furniture to fine art, will keep its character and its name, as Keys Fine Art Auctions, while the new parent property business is called Arnolds Keys.

Keys partner Clive Hedges said the auction business, which was synonymous with the town was there to stay.

It would be modernised, while retaining its traditional character, and its role developed through the creation of new fine art auctioneer directors Paul Goodley, Kevin Lines, Nigel Ducker and William King.

Mr Hedges, from Sheringham, stressed any changes would be 'paced' and explained to customers.

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The merger, which followed 18 months of talks, did not involve any job losses among the 95 staff, as Keys had offices at Aylsham, Cromer, Holt, North and Sheringham, while Arnolds were at Norwich, Eaton, Wroxham and Lowestoft - so there was no overlap.

There were hopes of expanding the Keys Holidays self-catering business into the Broads and city through the new link up, which now made them the biggest independent property business in the county.

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Guy Gowing, Arnolds managing partner, said the merger, which comes into effect from May 1, brought together two long-standing local firms with loyal customer bases and staff.

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