Cheshire art and antiques auction house receives funding boost

Laura Rees
Senior Investment Executive
Wilson 55

One of the UK’s leading online art and antiques auction houses, Wilson55is focused on growth after receiving an investment boost which has helped to expand its workforce. 

Based in Nantwich, Cheshire, Wilson55 has used funding from NPIF – FW Capital Debt Finance, which is managed by FW Capital and is part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, to support their growth ambitions and create two new positions. 

Last year employees Stephen and Sharon Sparrow completed a management buyout of Wilson55 and are using the investment from FW Capital to support their growth plans after taking over the business. This includes the appointment of James Spiridion, a highly experienced 20th century design specialist and graduate Anna Lambert who is being trained within the business as an art department assistant. 

Founded in 1955, Wilson55, previously known as Peter Wilson Fine Art Auctioneers holds a calendar of auctions each year for both traditional and new collecting fields using its customised saleroom with over 8,500 square feet and three showrooms. Auctions run online with platforms in the UK and internationally. The Wilson55 team are long-established members of the Society of Fine Art Auctioneers and well recognised throughout the industry and have featured in shows including Bargain Hunt, Antiques Roadtrip and Dickinson's Real Deal. The new appointments have seen the team grow to ten. 

Laura Rees, senior investment executive and Lewis McMullin, portfolio executive assistant from FW Capital have supported Stephen and Sharon Sparrow with this investment.

Stephen Sparrow, Managing Director at Wilson55 said: “We’re coming up to the first year anniversary of acquiring the business and moving from being employees. It’s been a very busy time with sales and we’ve been focused on building the foundations of the business. The growth we have enjoyed has meant we needed to strengthen our team. We’re delighted to welcome Anna and James to Wilson55 and their addition is a fantastic boost for the business.  The financial backing and support from Laura Rees and Lewis McMullin at FW Capital has been great, recognising and helping us to achieve our growth ambitions.”

Lewis McMullin, Portfolio Executive Assistant at FW Capital said: “Stephen and Sharon have many years’ experience and market knowledge in the field of art and antiques. Their success is evident with the growth of Wilson55 which is a fantastic, well established business. To take ownership of a business you have previously worked for is a big step and since Stephen and Sharon took control last year they have gone from strength to strength.”

Keira Shepperson, Director, British Business Bank, said: “Investment can play a significant role in a business, and, in the case of Wilson55, it enabled the team to hire more people to assist in continuing their impressive growth journey. The creation of jobs is a key goal for the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, so it is hugely important that all parts of the economy, including the arts industry, are included in reaching that goal.”

The current NPIF investment phase has now completed with the British Business Bank launching the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund II in March 2024.

The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.