Under new owner Sameer Mahomed’s visionary leadership, London Auctions is striking out in an exciting new direction
Sameer Mahomed, the owner of London Auctions, is a man with a seriously impressive curriculum vitae. Having trained as a chartered accountant in his native South Africa (he came to the UK 11 years ago), Sameer worked for Deloitte in Johannesburg, Los Angeles and London advising blue chip clients across a wide range of business sectors.
Subsequently, he joined ex-Dragon James Caan’s venture capital company, overseeing the investment portfolio from the Den, and then founded his own management consultancy, delivering strategic support to small and medium-sized enterprises. So, with that track record (and that’s only part of it) why, I wonder, is Sameer running a Chiswick auction house?
‘I must admit, I don’t have any background in auctions or antiques,’ he says. ‘And, at times, it’s been quite daunting. However, as a turnaround specialist, I knew I could apply my skills here. I love the challenge of making a failing business successful.’
Sameer with Bargain Hunt’s Anita Manning
In its previous incarnation (as High Road Auctions) the auction house was heading for liquidation before Sameer stepped in. He believes that his lack of experience has, in fact, proved a distinct advantage. ‘I had no pre-conceived ideas; that meant I could look at the whole operation with a fresh eye.
‘My priority was to resurrect the core auction business. We have a new team of valuers and auctioneers who combine specialist expertise with broad knowledge across many fields. Most importantly, if they’re not sure about an item they’ll say so and undertake further research. We want to be fair; the vendor must get the highest possible price and the buyer must get value for money.’
Presentation and display was an area that demanded a radical re-think. Sameer has a clear vision for London Auctions – and it is definitely not one of a cold salesroom with a pile ’em high sell ’em cheap ethos. ’We’ve got a fantastic space which allows us to showcase everything in a beautiful way with a clear focus on interiors and design.
‘We put on a completely new window display every weekend and, inside, my aim is to create a comfortable, relaxed environment in which people can browse at leisure, meet up with friends, eat and drink in our new L’Art Café (it is re-opening in September) and enjoy the experience.’
Always looking to innovate, Sameer has ambitious plans. Complementing the weekly general auctions, there will be more specialist sales and he also intends to convert some space into a ‘buy it now’ retail platform. ‘That means there’ll always be new things to see and buy which, in turn, will keep the sale room active seven days a week,’ he explains. ‘Also, we’ll be hosting more one-off local arts and culture events; we’ve already held a Chinese calligraphy masterclass and had an artist working in the window.’
For Sameer, it’s all part of his drive to attract a new, younger generation to the auction house. ‘I want to make us a community hub and talking point. If you want to furnish a home at an affordable price, you can do it here; if you want to start collecting art, silver or luxury items such as watches, jewellery and handbags, you can do it here. I believe London Auctions is setting itself apart and is Chiswick’s local boutique auction house.’
30-34 Chiswick High Road, W4 1TE