One of the largest and oldest estate agencies in the West Midlands has been forced to call in administrators, close offices and cut 60 staff.

John Kelly and John Lowe of Begbies Traynor have been appointed as joint administrators of Barbers Property Agents.

Barbers covers Shropshire, Staffordshire and the Cheshire Borders.

The firm of Barbers Auctions which runs the Market Drayton Livestock Market is a separate legal entity and is not affected.

Barbers was founded in 1848 and covers the homes, rural and commercial sectors. Before the downturn, it had 100 staff in seven locations.

Kelly said: ‘Barbers is a long established business which has been affected by the worst financial conditions facing the property sector in over 20 years.

'Due to the economic difficulties it has been necessary to make 60 redundancies and close the offices in Newport, Stafford and Telford Town Centre, but it will be business as usual at the remaining locations at Market Drayton, Wellington, Whitchurch and the head office in Shrewsbury whilst a buyer is found.

‘The company operates a variety of services so, despite the current economic outlook, we are seeking to achieve a sale of the business as soon as possible.

'In particular, Barbers has a significant lettings business which is in high demand as all agents seek ways of providing regular income in this post credit crunch environment.’

Rental income and deposits will not be affected as the practice operates an independent client account.