Peterhouse, the seaside retirement home for former ad industry executives, is being sold by Nabs, the industry charity that established it more than 50 years ago.
Staff and residents at the home on a three-acre site in Bexhill-on-Sea were being told today of the sale to care-home provider Agincare for £2.35m.
Disposal of Peterhouse has long been the subject of internal debate at Nabs and reflects the demands on it, now much changed from a time when adland offered jobs for life and the industry felt a duty of care for its veterans. Today, almost half the people working in agencies are under 30.
Diana Tickell, the Nabs chief executive, said: "In recent years, there has been a significant decrease in demand from within the industry for a Nabs-run retirement complex. As a charity, Nabs has a duty to make sure its resources are focused where the need is greatest and to spend our valuable donations in the most effective way possible."
Proceeds from the sale will be used by Nabs to invest in new technologies and services and in projects such as the TimeTo campaign, which aims to combat sexual harassment in the industry, and its SHEPARD well-being work. It will continue supporting Peterhouse beneficiaries through a grant-giving programme.
Peterhouse, which comprises a care home and 34 sheltered flats, has had mixed fortunes since its opening in 1966 "for people in the autumn of their lives" by the bishop of Chichester. Its first resident was an 82-year-old retired copywriter who was happy to swap her leaky-roofed flat for more comfortable surroundings.
By the early part of the new millennium, however, Peterhouse had become a serious drain on Nabs’ resources and in some disarray, with neither staff nor Nabs aware of the huge changes in legislation affecting care homes and their impact.
Since then, Peterhouse’s fortunes have improved, thanks partly to the Charity Commission, which allowed it to "top up" with some local people in need of care without affecting its charitable status. It now runs on a break-even basis.
Nevertheless, the home has faced some ongoing challenges, particularly in trying to refresh its board of management and to keep the attention of the industry, not least because of its location, a two-hour train journey from central London.
John Harrison, a director at Christie & Co, the specialist business property advisor appointed to market Peterhouse, said: "Agincare stood out as a family-run group offering high standards of care."