The chairman of Mitchells Auction Company has stood down after a decade during which the firm's turnover has more than doubled.

Mr Watson took on the role in November 2008.

He has seen shareholder funds rise from £2.8 million to £4.3 million, and turnover rise from £1.14 million to £2.57 million.

He stood down at the company's AGM and was thanked by board members and shareholders.

Existing board member Ian Powley takes over as chairman.

Mr Powley is a regional branch manager of Carrs Billington and well known for his involvement in many local agricultural organisations including agricultural shows, Young Farmers and discussion groups.

He also farms in partnership with his son at Armathwaite producing finished lambs and store cattle which are sold through Mitchells.

The board has also appointed Stephen Revell, who is a senior corporate partner at international law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

Mr Watson said: “When I took early retirement I hoped to find part-time roles in Cumbria where my work experience would be of value.

"I was lucky to be invited to take the chair at Mitchells where the task was to bring financial stability, and to install modern systems and procedures.

"These goals have now been achieved and the company has a strong balance sheet. I have worked with a great team of people throughout the company who understand that their livelihoods depend on making every sale a success, be it an auction sale of livestock, furniture or fine art, a food sale or the sale of expert advice.

"I know I leave the company in safe hands with Ian Powley taking over as chairman of a very capable board who are determined to grow the business profitably.”

Mitchells' saleroom director and auctioneer Mark Wise said: “When Bob agreed to become our chairman in 2008, the business had been suffering from several years of inconsistent performance.

"Relishing a challenge, Bob very quickly became instrumental in sorting out our cash position whilst also inspiring existing employees to greater achievements.

"He was also instrumental in the setting up of VeeVa!, our highly successful, award-winning coffee shop in Cockermouth.

"Bob has been our chairman for over ten years and leaves the company in a very strong financial position going forward. We have a lot to thank him for.”