‘Low-margin’ business sold to 410-strong Smiths Gore

Cluttons has sold its rural division to Countryside specialist Smiths Gore, as it focuses on its residential and commercial business.

Smiths Gore takes over the four offices – in Bath, Maidstone, Oxford and Sutton Scotney near Winchester and 49 staff on 1 April.

Three equity partners – Mike Woolridge, Chris Jowett and Giles Wordsworth – will retain their status when they move to Smiths Gore.

The acquisition of the division, whose annual turnover is around £3m, takes Smiths Gore’s nationwide network to 25 offices with 410 staff, including 22 equity partners.

Smiths Gore counts the Crown Estate, the Church Commissioners and the Duchy of Lancaster among its clients.

The 49 staff will move from a total of seven Cluttons offices. In Carlisle, Romsey and London, Cluttons teams will merge with Smiths Gore offices.

Smiths Gore funded the purchase with cash from its equity partners.

Simon Knight, Smiths Gore senior partner, said: ‘Our business is firmly rooted in the rural sector and our core business is in the management of landed estates and the provision of rural real estate services.’

He added: ‘We’re a growing business and we are the dominant provider in this sector. It is very buoyant at the moment.’

Cluttons decided to sell its rural division as part of a repositioning.

Richard Cotton, Cluttons senior partner, said: ‘Over the last few years we have been moving toward concentrating on our residential and commercial urban business and growing our Middle Eastern business.

‘The rural arm represented £3m turnover of our £50m turnover and there were beginning to be conflicts.

‘It is a low-margin business and is best done by a large specialist or a niche local firm.’

Residential, including professional management and agency, represents 40% of Cluttons’ turnover, while the rural business made up only 7%. Cluttons is 16th in the Property Week Agency 2007 list. Its turnover was £50.8m up 15% from 2006.

  • Strutt & Parker has been appointed to manage the Church Commissioners’ southern rural estates portfolio. Cluttons lost the appointment last year.

Smiths Gore will continue to manage the remaining northern rural estates of the Church.