Fewer dealers are suffering a decline in sales and the export market has improved, according to the latest British Antique Dealers’ Association survey of members.
The 17th annual BADA survey was returned by more than half (58 per cent) of the 360 or so members, including top names from the cream of the British trade such as Eskenazi, Richard Green and Mallett.
Overall the number of BADA dealers enjoying an increase in turnover during 2005 saw little change (up from 27 to 28 per cent from the previous year). However, those suffering a fall-off in sales dropped from 55 per cent in 2003 to 47 per cent in 2004
and to 38 per cent in 2005.
BADA conduct spot checks with Companies House to check the accuracy of such information, so they can rely on such figures as accurate.
It was back in 2003 that BADA members reported a massive fall in the number of sales to buyers from the US, down from as much as 43 per cent by value in 2001 to 27 per cent. There are clear signs that some American business is returning, with some 37 per cent of all sales by value heading across the Atlantic – just a single percentage point below the number of sales to buyers in the United Kingdom.
Given the importance of the overseas market (as a whole sales overseas were up from 53 to 62 per cent), it comes as no surprise to report that a quarter of respondents applied for an export licence from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council. Of these, 33 per cent feel that the low EU export licence threshold (£30,400) has an adverse impact on their business. Looking ahead to the impending introduction of the artist’s resale right, 35 per cent of the BADA’s art dealing members (as opposed, for example to furniture dealers) believed that droit de suite would have a serious impact on trade – a reflection of the number of BADA dealers who now deal in Modern pictures.
The combined turnover figure for the full BADA membership was estimated at £647m/$1.16m, a one per cent fall from last year. Almost a quarter of this business was conducted at fairs, but shops and galleries still remain the most important point of sale, accounting for 59 per cent of total sales. Almost four per cent of members’ sales are made through the internet, one per cent up on last year – but hardly a headline statistic.
The positive impact of special exhibitions was again underlined in the findings. In 2005, 36 per cent of BADA members held specialist exhibitions on their premises to bolster income (63 per cent of them produced a catalogue) with 82 per cent of such dealers saying the extra effort pays off.
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