Mallett have put on hold plans to leave Bond Street. In the wake of a massive rent rise last year, the London dealers announced their intended departure from the luxury goods thoroughfare, but they have been unable to pass on the lease of the building.
“Our anticipated move out of our Bond Street showroom to another Mayfair location has not materialised,” company chairman Lord Daresbury said in a recent report to shareholders. “We intend to remain in the premises until the appropriate value for the lease is realised.
Rent at 141 New Bond Street rose by 50 per cent to £1.2m in 2008 prompting the controversial operational review that described Bond Street as “now predominantly a fashion street” and concluded that the changing character of the thoroughfare had adversely affected footfall to its art and antiques shops.
Mallett, one of the few dealers quoted on the London Stock Exchange, acknowledged in the interim report that they are suffering in the difficult trading conditions that have already sent neighbour and previously listed rival Partridge Fine Art into administration last month.
Lord Daresbury said that a pre-tax loss of £820,000 for the first six months of 2009 (losses in the equivalent period in 2008 were £297,000) was “a direct result of the global economic recession which took effect from September 2008”.
Sales of £6.8m across Mallett’s stores in New York and London and stands at some of the world’s top antiques fairs were 17 per cent down year-on-year, this despite the £600,000 raised by stock sold at Christie’s in June and the launch of the contemporary design collection Meta. Despite critical acclaim for the products (two will be included in the V&A’s contemporary design exhibition), Meta’s sales for the first six months of 2009 totalled a modest £331,000 and a second collection has been put on hold.
But following the upheavals of late last year (a major management re-organisation and the writing-down of the value of stock), Lord Daresbury believes the company is in better shape than some of its competitors.
“When compared to trading in the second half of last year, when the economic environment was similar, these results show a 72 per cent increase in turnover and a 64 per cent reduction in operating losses.” Despite the failure to cut their rent, tight control on costs (particularly a smaller marketing spend and staff cuts), debt has been reduced from £2.3m on January 1 to £800,000 by June 30.
He was cautiously optimistic about the second half of the year, saying: “We are encouraged by the improvement in the trading environment since the start of the year and the loss of a number of dealers from our sector recently should boost our market share.”