Family firm expansion is far from pie in the sky.

IF you’ve ever wondered where the unsold bargains end up when the sales are over a Nottingham firm has the answer.

John Pye and Sons holds sales across the country where people can snap up anything from chairs to computers at prices they’ll never see on department store shelves.

Now it’s set for expansion with plans for a new facility, which means it will have a dozen locations around the country.

The family-owned firm, which employs 110 people, is based in the landmark buildings once occupied by Shipstone’s, off Radford Road in Basford.

Behind the traditional facade is a business that has grown into a major national player in the market for the disposal of commercial assets – whether it is plant and machinery from a failed business or last season’s unsold stock from a big high-street name.

In the past year, John Pye and Sons has seen sales leap from £14 million to more than £16 million, winning significant disposals contracts with Government agencies and major high-street retailers.

Led by managing director Adam Pye, it is also used by banks, finance houses and private businesses looking for specialist disposals skills.

Besides its auction hubs at James Shipstone House in Nottingham, Uttoxeter and London, the firm also has four further sites in London and others in Birmingham, Bristol, Northampton, Peterborough and Sheffield. Its latest site is in Derby.

The firm’s growth has also been driven by a switch from physical sales to online auctions, with buyers able to inspect goods at one of Pye’s regional centres and then bid through its website.

Sheldon Miller, the firm’s business development director, told the Post: “People are much more web savvy now and a lot more comfortable with the concept of buying online and seeking out good deals.

“The result is that in the space of three years the numbers of unique visitors to our website has risen from 28,000 to 110,000 a week.”

Retailers dispose of surplus stock through John Pye and Sons so that they can free up space for new stock.

Over the past year, Pye’s have sold 8,000 televisions, 4,000 tablet computers, 3,500 laptops, along with thousands of fridge freezers and beds.

The single biggest item it sold – an item that had been repossessed by creditors of a businessman – was a light aircraft which fetched £97,000.

“We have grown organically over the years, moving from general auctions into corporate insolvency work and, in recent years, into retail stock disposals. We have become a much more recognisable brand in the disposals market place,” said Mr Miller. “But that has taken both vision and a lot of hard work.

“The switch to online has changed the nature of some of what we do. Auctions used to be the preserve of specialist traders buying job lots.

“Now, we can sell items individually with the website having made the auction both accessible and convenient for the public.

“There is a very big difference between us and eBay, though. Because we have got all these sites you can inspect the goods before you buy and we strongly encourage anyone who wants to bid to do so.”

Launched in 1968 as a furniture and general auctioneer, John Pye and Sons today disposes of everything from office equipment and surplus retail stock to machinery and vehicles.

Its next move is likely to be into property sales.

Besides Mr Pye and Mr Miller, the other senior figure in the business are operations director Paul Longson and IT director Jeff Foster.