Up to 100 Midland jobs have been saved after a 50-year-old cash-stricken estate agency chain was bought only days after collapsing into administration.
Jobs at offices throughout Birmingham, including Acocks Green, Castle Bromwich, Erdington, Sheldon, Shirley, Yardley and Marston Green were thrown into the melting pot with the crash of Burchell Edwards Estate Agents.
Other jobs at Tamworth, Knowle and Lichfield were also plunged into jeopardy but the sale announced of the business and assets of Cornerstone The Midlands Limited, which trades under the Burchell Edwards Estate Agents banner, has offered new hope for dozens of staff.
Administrator Ian Gould, of accountants PKF (UK) LLP, said the acquisition, by new company Burchell Edwards Midlands (BEM) Limited, was good news for customers across the region.
A total of 32 people have been made redundant since the company went bust last week but administrators believe the management buy-out will safeguard the vast majority of the jobs although offices will close in Acocks Green, Knowle, Marston Green and Yardley.
BEM will take over about half of the Burchell Edwards offices.
Offices in the East Midlands include the group’s headquarters at Burton-on-Trent plus outlets in Alfreton, Belper, Derby, Eastwood, Heanor, Ilkeston, Mansfield and Ripley.
Managing director Michael Bruce, announcing the buy-out, said the decision on Friday to place the business into administration had been a “difficult” one.
He said: “I regret that this has, due to the slowdown in the property market and global economic instability, been necessary but it was important that we safeguarded jobs, continued to give our customers uninterrupted service and made the business and the brand much more able to drive forward in any market.
“It was also really important for us that we did as much as we could for creditors.
‘‘We will continue to work with the vast majority of these businesses.”
Mr Gould said that in difficult times the need for early action was never more necessary.
“Companies, even in the worst markets such as property, can take steps to re-shape their business if the problem is identified at an early stage.
‘‘It is believed that this re-organisation will protect Burchell Edwards’ customers and a number of its employees.”
The move comes as estate agents face increasing pressure with many reporting sales of as few as one a week as potential vendors wait to see if the market bottoms out.
There did appear to be a glimmer of light in the Midlands housing market after figures last month suggested a rise in prices although the latest figures showed another year on year fall.
Despite signs that falls in house prices were levelling out across the country, the website Rightmove warned that many people were failing to price realistically and were tempted to think that their own home was more desirable than others on the market.
House prices have fallen by 4.9 per cent during the year to mid-October, the biggest drop recorded by Rightmove.
It added that estate agents were also competing for the few homes that were being put up for sale, on the off-chance that they could make a sale and boost their revenues before Christmas.