A NEW estate agency ‘hub’ is gearing up to open today.

Despite the recent wave of shop closures in the wake of the lockdown, estate agents Hunters, Cumbria and South West Scotland, have taken the plunge and set up in the former Peter Tyson Appliances showroom on Abbey Street.

The hub will be an office for up to 20 people whose jobs include roles in conveyancing and mortgage brokering.

Formerly the Cumberland Estate Agents, the property arm of the Cumberland Building Society, with offices in Kingmoor, it has recently become part of the Hunters franchise.

Owner and managing director Graeme Macleod is hoping to open the new central hub in Abbey Street today.

Mr Macleod said: “This business has come out what was the Cumberland Estate Agents and we had a management buy-out of the business last year.

“The way that estate agency us heading it makes sense to bring people into one big central office location.

“We sell at least 100 houses a month – it is a sizeable operation and the thing about estate agency is that it has changed, people can do it on their smartphones now.

“There are fewer people coming into the small branches.”

Due to the coronavirus regulations customers will be seen in the new hub by appointment and a number of other safety measures will also be in place.

Speaking in November about becoming part of the Hunters franchise, Mr Macleod said: “We have had a fantastic 27 years as part of the building society and will continue to harness our strong relationship with them.

“We felt becoming part of a strong national estate and lettings agency brand and having access to the benefits of a well-established franchising model was a crucial part of our growth as a company, and of huge benefit to our customer base. We had explored a couple of options but determined that Hunters was comfortably the best option for us as we are so closely aligned in terms of our philosophies, sharing an enthusiasm to respond to the needs and requirements of the modern consumer.

He continued: “Estate agency is and always will be about people first, but that’s no longer just about face to face contact. It is equally important to capitalise on digital innovation.”