With transaction levels still running at less than half of what they were a decade ago in the South West, independent agents face an ever-tougher squeeze on income whilst contending with rising business operating costs.

In contrast to the austere times many independents continue to face, many larger corporate agents are expanding operations as they snap up prime high street premises for rock bottom rents and make a land grab for market share by dealing down on fee levels.

Change is afoot though as leading Bristol and Cheltenham agency CJ Hole look to tip the balance back in favour of the traditional high-street agent with a new partnership initiative funded in part by Legal & General.

CJ Hole expects to open 10 new offices in the next couple of years by partnering with independents that compliment their existing area of operation. MD of CJ Hole - Michael Stoop comments: "We are not looking to take away an agent's independence, we want to help them maintain it by providing a partnership - a partnership for profit. We supply all the services and support an agent needs, to be competitive and at the cutting edge whilst the agent carries on doing what they do best - providing traditional estate agency services with a local focus."

The CJ Hole name is known and respected throughout The South West. It disappeared from much of Somerset when Humberts acquired eleven of it's offices in 2006. Their core operation in Bristol and Cheltenham has continued to flourish with growing market share and new income streams. In 2011, CJ Hole was recognised as the Best Medium Agency in the South West for both Sales and Lettings at the highly coveted Sunday Times Estate Agency of the Year and Lettings Agency of the Year Awards.

Michael's passion for the highest standards in estate agency mean that CJ Hole regularly benefit from extensive training from the industry's leading lights including Peter Knight, Julian O'Dell and Clare Fletcher. He also sits on the Disciplinary Standards Committee and is a board member of The Property Ombudsman and he is also a fellow of the NAEA.

CJ Hole's partner agents have the buying power of a network close to 80 offices. They work closely with the very best suppliers to the industry including Dezrez, LetMC, Homelet and Mortgage Advice Bureau.

CJ Hole also enjoy a very close relationship with Rightmove. This means that they access Rightmove's core services at a significant discount from what an independent would pay going it alone. They have also been working closely with Rightmove to exploit new features before any other agent like the Rightmove iPad Presenter and advertsing on the iPhone app - an initiative that attracted an extra million mobile hits across the group in January.

Michael comments, "This is a new and exciting chapter in CJ Hole's 145 year history. We have come to understand the benefit of experience above anything else in estate agency and we look forward to partnering with experienced independent agents who wish to run their businesses on a leaner and meaner basis than has been possible by going it alone in recent years."

Independent agents who are interested in discussing a potential partnership with CJ Hole should contact John Fisher on 0845 337 0220 / 07860 205625 or e-mail