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Humberts lettings sold; Chestertons on the marketUncertainty surrounds the future shape of Humberts after the sale of the firm's entire letting and property management activities to Hamptons International, and the announcement that sister company Chestertons was looking for a buyer.

The purchase by Hamptons involves 800 lettings in total including 300 managed across Sussex, Wiltshire, Somerset, Kent and some other south of England areas.

The move follows the Hamptons' recent acquisition of Preston Bennett in north London and Humphrey's Skitt & Co lettings and sales agency in Greenwich.

But the purchase came as news to some Humberts staff; those who contacted LAT yesterday said they heard about the announcement via an email, with no specific mention of what was to happen to their posts.

A press statement by Stephen Kendall, Humberts managing director, suggested that the lettings division had never been a core business stream anyway.

His statement says: "The sale .... is a strategic move enabling us to focus on the planned expansion of our core business streams, which are Residential Sales, Rural and Commercial Agency, and Professional Services."

In February Chesterton Humberts - as it was then known - announced it was to split into two companies with separate brand names (Chestertons, for the 29 branches within the M25 and its 20 international offices, and Humberts everywhere else).

Chesterton Global, the parent company, said at the time of the split that the rebranding of both firms would happen in June. But while Chestertons' new brand was unveiled in a glitzy central London location ahead of schedule, little has to date been heard about the fate of Humberts.

Now Chestertons is itself on the market. The firm is believed to have hired advisers from Cavendish Corporate Finance to manage the sale which, according to some press reports, could see the firm valued at £50m. Chestertons is majority-owned by the investment firm Mercantile Group.

Meanwhile the former Humberts letting operation is now facing its first day as part of the larger Hamptons network.

Lesley Cairns, head of residential letting at Hamptons, announced the move with a statement saying: "The acquisition forms an important part of our continued growth strategy and builds on the expansion that has already taken place this year. We've expanded our lettings proposition by 30 per cent in the past two years with 18 new letting operations."