A group of 19 British auction houses has launched The Association of Accredited Auctioneers (Triple-A) in response to the special challenges of doing business with Chinese buyers.
The group's aims are to promote their UK
sales to a Chinese audience and to guarantee payments from
Members' catalogues will be posted in
Chinese at www.epailive.com and bidders registering on the
site will be required to pay money to cover their purchases into an
escrow fund operated independently of epailive, with payment
promised within 48 hours of the sale.
The initiative has been promoted by Chris
Ewbank of Ewbank's in Surrey, who becomes chairman of Triple-A.
"The internet is having an increasingly
significant impact on our individual businesses," he said, "but
auctioneers and their buyers have been wary of dealing with each
other when they are separated often by thousands of miles and
obvious language barriers.
"The biggest problems for UK auctioneers and
their clients have been the difficulties of placing their sales
before Chinese bidders and, because of differing practice and a
culture of delay, Chinese buyers have frequently been slow in
paying or have refused to pay at all.
"Ours is a market sector in which
credibility and service are key. Triple-A provides a platform from
which to broaden foreign consumers' understanding of precisely what
they should expect from a UK auction house and what the auction
house requires from them.
"As a not-for-profit association, Triple-A
will represent the highest level of standards and service in the
profession, and we will jealously guard its accreditation standards
with a rigid code of practice which all members must adhere
Above: Triple A chairman, Chris
The association's secretary, Jeremy Lamond
of Halls in Shropshire, focused on the potential of the Chinese
market. "There is now an increasing body of evidence in support of
the notion that China's 'middle classes' are beginning to look West
in the evolution of their collecting and decorating tastes," he
said. "Triple-A provides its membership with the ideal platform
from which to promote access to Britain's rich market for the
benefit of its seller clients."
Paul Viney, chairman of the Society of Fine
Art Auctioneers and Valuers, added: "Personally, I welcome any
initiative that can help us promote and develop our business links
with the Chinese. Triple-A will be making a presentation at the
next SOFAA committee meeting in December and we look forward to
hearing more about their plans."
• The 19 founder auctioneers are Anderson
& Garland, Baldwin's, Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood,
Canterbury Auction Galleries, Cheffins, Dreweatts and Bloomsbury,
Ewbank's, Fellows, Gorringes, Halls, Hartleys, Lawrences of
Crewkerne, Lyon & Turnbull, Mallams, McTear's, Peter Wilson,
Roseberys, Sworders and Toovey's.