Words By Hannah Tapping
Selling your home can be a huge life transition, but using a professional removal firm can help to negate the uncertainty and upheaval.
Britannia Lanes of Cornwall, as it was originally named, has been moving Cornish and UK homes since 1974. Founded by Mike and Sylvia Lane, this is a true family business. The Cornwall branch is headed up by their son, Managaing Director, Mark with subsequent, family run depots in Devon and Somerset. Mark’s daughter Sarah and her brother Matt are now the third generation of Lanes to be working in the Cornwall branch. Matt takes care of all of the operational side of the business while Sarah’s role encompasses the office management, HR and recruitment, and she was on-hand to explain to me how the collaboration with Britannia works to benefit their customers.
The company became the Britannia member for Cornwall and Plymouth in 1986. “It works like a cooperative,” says Sarah. “Britannia is the national part of a group of which we are members, which includes medium-sized, family owned and family run removal companies, just like ours, all over the country. The collaboration with Britannia gains us access to our own shipping division in Redhill and a network of corporate clients as well. It means that we’ve got access to additional support and assistance across the UK from other Britannia members. So, for example, if we were delivering to someone in Braintree in Essex and had problems with access and couldn’t get our vehicle in we would be able to contact the local team for assistance.” It’s clear that this association and network of support gives Britannia Lanes’ customers peace of mind, especially on out of county moves.
From left to right: Matt, Sarah and Mark Lane
With the announcement of temporarily reduced rates on Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) during the pandemic, the domestic housing market has been buoyant to say the least. The knock-on effect is that removal firms have been busier than ever, but it’s not all been plain sailing as Sarah expounds: “The British Association of Removers, our governing body, called a halt to all removals on March 23rd. Luckily, we were allowed to complete any moves already in progress, but for everyone else it was a case of cancellation and refund.” Uncertain times followed for everyone, the company downed tools, parked up the fleet of vehicles and waited for the next announcement. Fortunately, removals were permitted again from May and since then, demand has been huge, particularly for those looking to relocate to Cornwall.
Sarah tells me that they have noticed a huge demand for removals to Cornwall, in particular from those who are able to work remotely. Sarah and the team have undertaken a number of moves from London and the south east to popular areas such as Mevagissey and the Roseland, and the team have never been busier. This is testament to the bespoke service they offer. As Sarah says: ”No two moves are ever the same. One day we might be moving a standard three-bedroom house and the next we could be doing something more specialist. We have recently moved antique furniture into storage for the owners of a stately home while renovations are undertaken, while at the same time planning for some priceless musical instruments to be moved from a music room in Marazion.”
Each move is planned, depending on size, location and type, with a surveyor mapping out a bespoke plan for each. “It’s like a big jigsaw,” says Sarah, “and it’s vital that every piece fits into place. That might mean putting a client’s furniture into storage if there is a time-gap between buying and selling. We have our own, on-site storage facilities which, actually, have never been busier as we are finding that sellers are keen to exchange in the current climate even if they don’t have an immediate property to move to.”
With this in mind, Sarah was able to share with me the exciting news that they are shortly to launch a state of the art, contactless, satellite self-storage facility in south Cornwall that will be the first of its kind in the Duchy. “The idea is that you can just turn up and choose the size of room you require. You will then complete your contract digitally on a machine that will then give you an access code into the facility. The plan is, that this will just be the first of many of these across Cornwall. It’s important for us as a company, and for our customers, that we are agile and move with the times. We’re used to having peaks and troughs as our business obviously follows the sometimes-volatile housing market. Our satellite storage will help manage this, both in terms of our business and our customer’s needs.”