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Hampshire agent blames staffing issues and Covid as it confirms closure

Long-established Hampshire estate agent Clarke Mews has shut all three of its branches in West End, Botley and Netley, with its sales and lettings books sold to Charters Estate Agents.

The closure was reported a few days ago after a note appeared on the estate agent's website and more context behind the decision has now been revealed.

he agent been trading for more than 40 years and the current owners purchased the business in 2018 but have said they struggled with staff recruitment and retention, leading to high staff turnover. 


This made it very difficult to get a stable team in place to be able to build the business in the mould the new owners wanted.Hampshire based business advisory firm and insolvency practitioner Portland Leonard Curtis has successfully assisted in the sale of the lettings book owned by Clarke Mews Lettings Ltd, which remains solvent, and the property sales book owned by the parent company, CMS Southampton Limited, which has now been placed into liquidation.

Although the business’s turnover has generally increased every year, a multitude of market related issues has resulted in the closure of Clarke Mews, a statement from Portland Leonard Curtis said.

It said the pandemic effectively shut down all of the Clarke Mews branches and slowed down the number of successful transactions being concluded. 

This was followed by lockdown restrictions, which led to increased costs and much lower sales volumes.

Fear around the recent and future anticipated cost of living increases and interest rate rises has contributed to lower confidence in the property market, with both buyers and sellers becoming more cautious and prioritising paying the bills, rather than moving house, the statement said.

In June 2022, the Clarke Mews’ owners sought independent advice from Portland Leonard Curtis and, as a consequence of those discussions, the owners concluded that the business was no longer viable and took the difficult decision to cease trading. 

Portland Leonard Curtis was formally instructed to assist in marketing and co-ordinating the sale of the lettings and property sale pipeline, which resulted in a sale of both to Charters Estate Agents.

Andrew Rumsey, client director at Portland Leonard Curtis, said: “Clarke Mews had a long-standing reputation in the local area and, whilst circumstances in recent years have meant that the business has struggled, the interest in acquiring the pipeline was still strong, resulting in the successful sale to Charters Estate Agents.”


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