A LEADING estate agent in East Lancashire is set to spread its reach into Cheshire, Derbyshire and Shropshire.

Burnley-based Petty has bought the property division of Wright Marshall out of administration.

Challenging trading conditions had beset the Cheshire firm, which also had a rural auction mart and fine art auctioneers.

But Petty, which also has four other offices across Pendle, stepped in to acquire their real estate arm for an undisclosed fee.

Charlotte Hagan, Petty chairman, said: “Our acquisition sees the merger of two strong heritage businesses, each with outstanding management teams and local and technical knowledge.

“The expansion into the Cheshire, Derbyshire and Shropshire areas is hugely significant and provides us with an excellent platform.”

Under the deal, Peter Barnes will become the enlarged group’s managing director for Cheshire and Derbyshire - the operation has estate agents offices in Northwich, Knutsford, Crewe, Nantwich, Chester, Tarporley and Buxton, with an office handling lettings alone in Whitchurch.

Bosses are hopeful that the introduction of the latest tech innovations will help the expanded company to thrive.

Mrs Hagan added: “Capitalising on the latest technology will enable the incredible customer care shown by both businesses, presenting a huge market opportunity to create a regionally connected network of tech-enabled, community-minded, estate agencies.

“We’re confident that the enlarged group will thrive with the direction of Peter Barnes and the wealth of expertise within the team at Wright Marshall.”

Mr Barnes added: “I am hugely excited at the prospect of getting involved in revolutionising a Cheshire institution.

“Wright Marshall has an established and trustworthy brand, with a great team delivering a fantastic service. My priority for the coming months is to embrace the technological developments that Petty have planned, but without losing the personal touch that Wright Marshall has become synonymous with.”

Joint administrators FRP Advisory confirmed the auction mart and auctioneers is not included, with a reported 37 posts affected.