IT is the end of an era as Andrew Grant closes its branches with the estate agents going online only.

While the firm's office in Hereford closed in 2019, the continued to sell properties in the county from their Ludlow 'hub' in south Shropshire.

But after the familiar estate agents went into administration last week with the loss of 54 jobs.

The Andrew Grant brand will continue online in lettings and sales after successful sales and some of the current team will be involved in the new enterprises.

They have stressed that sales and lettings will not be affected.

Due to substantial trading losses over the last two years and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, offices, including those in Worcester and Ludlow, were immediately closed and do not have the funds to re-open.

Diana Frangou and Guy Mander of RSM were appointed joint administrators of Andrew Grant on Friday, June 19 and a prepack sale of the lettings and property management business and Andrew Grant brand as a going concern to Andrew Grant Lettings Limited, saw 18 staff retained.

Looking back at the history of the 50-year-old firm, it was with some irony, as he was always ready to point out, Andrew Grant set up the business that was to grow into Worcestershire’s largest independent estate agents on April Fool’s Day, 1971.

It was what he had always wanted to do, because buying and selling had been his passion for as long as he could remember.

“As a 13-years old living in Kidderminster I would regularly attend furniture sales in the town's old cattle market with two friends from my then school, Winterfold at Chaddesley Corbett,” he explained.

“The auctioneers referred to the three of us as 'The Syndicate', and if other parties bid against us (by probably no more than 25p in today's money) the auctioneer would rebuke them for bidding against the syndicate.

"This ignited the desire in me to become an auctioneer and estate agent. At 16, and still needing a maths O-level, I started at Arthur G. Griffiths and Sons, a local agricultural auctioneer, and was the first not to pay a premium for the pleasure.

“My days in the cattle market were fun. My first job was booking in calves. Which I sometimes wrongly sexed, much to the anxiety of the auctioneer, who would however always make the surrounding crowd aware of my folly!

"Far more, the cattle market was my university of life, you simply had to get on with and understand the farmers or else they made your life a misery. In an interesting turn of fact, my first auction was of some mistletoe, sent to be sold by the nuns of Stanbrook Abbey at Callow End. Forty years later I would sell the Abbey on their behalf for around £5m.”

Having gained his O-level, Mr Grant worked in Worcester, Bromsgrove, Moseley, Birmingham and then Michael J. Davis in Kidderminster. After that he decided to go it alone.

He added: “With a loan from my brother, on April 1, 1971, I set-up in business, at Pierpoint Street, Worcester. My first break came with some publicity gained in my first three months when I managed to secure the sale of Spring Grove, more commonly known today as West Midland's Safari Park.

"The park was owned by the Webb family, famous for Webbs Seeds. The late owner, Major Harcourt-Webb, a solicitor who'd created the Severn Valley Railway, had hoped that the two leisures would go hand in hand, but learned that the property company managing the sale intended to split the entire estate.

"I was asked to trace Jimmy Chipperfield to ascertain if he was still interested in purchasing, and with Lord Derby he did. Unfortunately, I did not receive a fee as the solicitor had not discussed this with the buyers and, as anyone knows, it's no good doing anything after the event!

“I did however receive a huge amount of publicity including the entire front page of the Kidderminster Shuttle, and as a result of the deal, became acquainted with the Webb family, and have since done much business on their behalf.

"The business slowly progressed, by opening further offices, mostly via acquisition; one of which being my former employer, Michael J. Davis I also took over the office of Savills in Hereford as they were unable to make a go of it, as well as their Solihull office as that too was shutting down.

"My thanks must go to the wonderful people that I have worked with over the years. The first, who became my mentor, was Alan Fortune. Alan acted as a consultant to my firm for over 35 years, retiring at the age of 87. We met as a result of him coming to the Midlands to sort the sale and arrangements of acquisitioned companies. He first saw me through my Pierpoint Street office window - sleeping at my desk!

"As a company we have invested in strategic training, which includes the introduction and use of ever evolving technologies - essential for us in today's digitally driven society.”

But sadly that has not been enough in a rapidly changing world.