Of all the statistics – and there are many – to emerge from the British Antique Dealers’ Association 2011 Survey, it is the £855m ($1.4bn) estimated turnover among members that stands out.
Taken in the context of The European Fine
Art Foundation's (TEFAF) 2012 report, which values the global art
market at just over €46bn, it means that BADA members account for
around 2.5% of all world antiques trade by value. BADA secretary
general Mark Dodgson said: "The proportion of global turnover that
this represents confirms our view that London is still the greatest
centre for art and antiques in the world."
With responses from half of the
association's 324 trading members and spot checks with Companies
House to ensure that published figures match responses, the BADA
can argue that their survey is robust.
As with the LAPADA survey published last
week, US clients are the most important international buyers for
BADA dealers, accounting for 26% of all exports by value.
Where the two association reports differ
widely is in internet sales. While LAPADA reported 19% of all sales
conducted online, BADA members registered 6%, although at least two
members reported that the internet accounted for 80% of their
However, such high percentages tend to be
among dealers whose annual turnovers fall at the lower end of the
earnings spectrum among members. What the difference between BADA
and LAPADA members is in terms of exact internet sales by value is
also not clear, so it is possible that in real terms there is less
of a disparity than might first appear.
Overall, the BADA survey showed that things
had got slightly better for members during 2011, with 37% reporting
improved sales compared to 35% the previous year. There was also a
smaller number - 27% compared to 30% - who had seen sales
Exports were slightly up, representing 52%
of all sales, but overseas buyers are far more important in London
and the South East, where they account for 55% of all sales, than
in the rest of the UK, where they make up only 18%. London dealers
fared better than the rest when it came to improving sales, with
45% reporting an increase compared to only 17% in the North. The
BADA believe that this may be because the majority of members in
the north run smaller, traditional art and antique shops and
galleries, with less international trade, although a number of them
do stand at fairs in London and overseas.
These regional trends appear to follow
findings that dealers trading at the top end, with turnovers in the
millions of pounds, are faring better than the rest.
In Greater London, 20% of members have a
turnover of £5m or more, compared to 18% the previous year, and 45%
of members in Greater London enjoyed sales of at least £1m, just up
on the numbers who did in 2010.
No individual members in Scotland, the
Eastern or Southern regions saw sales over £1m for the current
The turnover bands enjoyed by most members
were £100,000-500,000 (34%) and £500,000-1m (25%). At the extremes,
8% turn over less than £100,000 and 3% over £20m.
Assessing different specialist
disciplines, the survey concluded: "It is apparent that, as
in previous years, a dealer's sales are generally higher where the
unit cost of their stock is also relatively high."
This was clearly reflected in comparisons
between ceramics and glass dealers (excluding Asian ceramics),
where 73% had sales of less than £500,000 and none took more than
£2m, and silver and jewellery, where 87% enjoyed turnovers of more
than £500,000, with some taking tens of millions of pounds.
The unit price factor showed up starkly in
furniture sales, too. Furniture dealers with sales above £1m rose
from 20% in 2010 to 26% in 2011.
Almost all Oriental dealers saw a rise in
turnover (94%), while the only discipline which saw a marked
decline compared to 2010 was ceramics and glass.
Shops and galleries are still the trade's
mainstay, accounting for 51% of all sales by value, with fairs
coming in second at 29%. Exhibitions contribute 7% of sales,
followed by the internet at 6%. Sales by auction (4%) and from home
(3%) account for the remainder.
There is a bigger diversity when it comes to
sourcing stock. Just in the lead is private UK sources, accounting
for 24%, ahead of UK auctions at 23%. Buying from other dealers
adds another 18%, while overseas auctions bring in 12%. Overseas
dealers and private clients account for another 10% each.
Looking at staffing profiles, 23% of members
trade alone, with another 26% employing one other. A further 20%
employ two people in addition to themselves.
No more than 18% of members employ a total of more than five
people, although 2% employ more than 40 each.