A YORK estate agent has been sold for an undisclosed sum to a franchise which is returning to the city after two decades.

Smiles estate and letting agents has been sold by local businesswomen Denise Howard and Joanna Johnson, and will now be operated as a Whitegates franchise by Ian Gibson and Maxine Tapper.

Operating from a city-centre shop in St Saviour’s Place, Smiles has a diverse lettings portfolio and manages and markets a number of holiday properties in York as well as selling property in and around the city.

Mr Gibson, managing director, said: “We have ambitious plans with Whitegates who are very pleased to be back in York after 20 years.”

Mrs Howard still has businesses in the city, and is freeing up time to focus on continuing the rapid growth of Inceil, the conservatory insulation business she heads up with husband and business partner John.

Whitegates-York will be revamping the shop premises next week before relaunching to customers.