New venture for Apex

Brighton-based asset-management company takes on new premises in Kettering

Posted on 25 May 2017 and read 1772 times
New venture for ApexTo allow it to consolidate and streamline its operations, the on-line auction company Apex ( has taken over premises in Kettering, Northants. This will allow it to move machines and equipment off sellers’ sites — a situation referred to in the trade as “move for convenience of sale”.

Apex CEO Stephen Dugard said: “In many cases, we have to move machines off site at short notice, so having our own premises means we no longer have to hunt around looking for space to hire.

“Take the example of Formula One manufacturers. They work in high-security areas with restricted access to what might be termed ‘the general public’, which includes potential machine buyers. This means we have to remove machines from these premises before they can be viewed.

In other industry sectors, such as oil and gas, equipment — not necessarily machine tools — has to be removed for site safety reasons.

“We have had one of our busiest years ever. We were picking machines up from all over the UK and shipping them to a number of locations, from the South to the far North. We were using warehouse space being offered by both transport companies and machinery dealers.

“This arrangement meant that we could have Apex staff at several sites at any one time, arranging sales as well as organising machine lifting and transport. With the number of machine sales we were handling increasing significantly over the last couple of years, this arrangement was no longer efficient or cost-effective — hence our new premises in Kettering.

“Built about 15 years ago, the facility is modern and ideal for our auction needs. It gives us 15,000ft2 of shopfloor space, office accommodation and a 30-tonne crane.

“Moreover, because the building was previously used by a printing company with large printing presses, it was built to accommodate a loading capacity of 200 tonne per m2, which is more than adequate for our requirements.

“There is power so that we can have machines running; there are also facilities for machine cleaning and preparation. We are currently planning to hold upwards of 10 auctions a year at Kettering.”

Changing emphasis

Mr Dugard says that while many auctions were historically the result of factory closures, his focus is now on companies — many of them large multi-national corporations with interests in a number of industries — that are re-organising, or undertaking new projects and disposing of redundant machines and equipment to make way for new.

“As auctioneers, we provide a range of services to our clients, which include large corporations, SMEs, finance companies and machinery dealers — plus individuals. Typically, clients approach us; we do not look for machines and equipment to sell.

“In addition to moving machines from site, where necessary, and getting them ready them for sale, we
prepare the sale information, which usually includes pictures and videos, followed by marketing, organising transactions and collecting the money.

“The latter two are more or less fully automated, as we have invested heavily in developing technology that both simplifies and automates the sales process, which is now almost entirely on-line. Moreover, most of the machines we handle are sold unseen, which highlights the reputation we have established.

In fact, the largest single item we have sold unseen went for £1.4 million — such is the strength of the Apex brand.”

Transferable technology

The marketing, sales and finance technology that Apex developed for its own needs is now being used by 26 auctioneers across a range of disciplines; it is also being used by multi-national corporations that want to benefit from Apex’s automated on-line bidding platform and asset-recovery capabilities.

Mr Dugard says: “We even have companies involved in fine arts and antiques using our technology. The processes used are the same as we use for selling machine tools and capital plant; it is only the asset that is different.”

A recent development for Apex has been the addition of a valuation department. This has Full RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) accreditation — and Rob Mumm (former CEO of Hitachi Finance in the UK) as a full-time partner.

Mr Dugard says: “The focus is on industrial applications; for a flat fee, we will provide valuations on machines, production lines and buildings. Clients might need this data for a variety of reasons, including arranging finance, or undertaking mergers and acquisitions. Our goal is to build valuation into a sizeable business.”

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