Auction house to donate £1m to staff

Adam Pye
X The Business Desk

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Hundreds of staff at Nottingham-based auction house John Pye are set to benefit after the firm pledged to donate £1m of its profits to staff.

The move comes after the business revealed details of its most successful year to date, with turnover for the 2020/21 year-end showing a rise iof 18% to £26.6m, while profits came in at almost £2.6m.

Just over £1m will be given to eligible staff who have stayed with the family business during the last year.

Adam Pye, managing director at John Pye & Sons, said: “We are delighted and equally humbled by these results, particularly in such difficult trading conditions. The John Pye family business has more than 620 staff which we regard as extended family.

“While public viewings were not possible, the business had to react to ensure purchases could still confidently bid and receive their items with a swift turnaround. The result saw more operational innovation in the first three months than we had seen at John Pye in the past four years. Our staff ensured that we continued to trade when we were legally allowed to and, as a result, we believe it is only fair that their tremendous hard work is a rewarded by a huge share of the year’s profits.”

Following the Covid-19 pandemic, John Pye was shut down immediately after being classed as a public risk by the government. Physical trade was brought to a standstill in Scotland for six months, Wales for three and England for two. As a result, the company was forced to make wholesale changes to its business structure.

Previously, John Pye focused on the selling of tangible assets through principal sales outlets of more than 60 public auction rooms across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. In a week, they would have previously anticipated over 30,000 bidders attending their physical premises. However, due to rapidly changing legislation in each of the different four home nations, John Pye had to adapt their approach and provide greater detail of items available to purchase as well as offer delivery for the first time.

Megan Martin, a customer service adviser for John Pye said: “I’ve never experienced anything like this at any company I’ve worked for. Despite the circumstances we’ve had the most profitable year to date. It wasn’t always easy but we managed to pull together and adapt quickly – we’re proud to have helped the company progress and even grow through this difficult period.”

John Pye took risks such as opening two new sites to accept client stock, despite making hundreds of thousands of pounds of losses a month – a decision which would end up paying dividends for the company.

Adam Pye added: “Without the furlough scheme we could have run out of money within months while the Welsh Government provided a grant of £75,000, simply due to the amount of people we had employed in Wales we had on our books.”