Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

The figure, which compares to 56 per cent in 1998, takes on even greater significance in the light of a combined annual turnover of £727m for the past year, a three per cent rise on the £703m announced for 1998/1999. This goes hand in hand with the rise in members exhibiting at overseas fairs, 23 per cent now compared to 21 per cent in 1998/99 and only 12 per cent in 1996/97.

Other notable trends, in what is the association’s 12th survey, include an increase in turnover for the period among 52 per cent of respondents, compared with only 40 per cent for the previous period.

BADA general secretary Elaine Dean admitted that she had not been sure whether her members would have matched the £703m total of the previous year and so was delighted to see them holding their own “in a fiercely competitive world”.

Furniture, pictures, ceramics and glass dealers appeared to have fared the best with the greatest increase in sales with those silver and jewellery dealers noting business growth slipping from 50 per cent last year to only 39 per cent this. Picture dealers have reversed the downward trend recorded last year, with 69 per cent recording an increase in turnover (1999: 44%).

There has been a rise in the percentage of members in London selling more than £1m worth of art antiques a year – 52 per cent compared to 49 per cent for the previous survey.

“What pleases me also is that most members across the whole country, not just in London, reported either increased sales or at least no change,” said Elaine Dean. “Only 14 per cent said their sales had decreased.”

The statistics show that 46 per cent of BADA members now annually turn over between £100,000 and £500,000, an increase from 42 per cent in the previous survey. Only six per cent turn over less than £100,000 but 37 per cent (1999: 35%, 1998: 30%, 1997: 22%) sell more than £1m of stock a year. An investigation into whether there were any regional influences in changes of turnover showed the increases were fairly evenly spread across the country except in the South West. The BADA are confident that the survey is increasingly accurate too; this year there was a high response rate – 62 per cent of members – and spot checks were carried out at Companies House against members’ responses. All those checked were found to match.

As well as the increase in exhibiting at overseas fairs, BADA members are increasing their presence at the top UK events after a downward trend. For 1999/2000, 70 per cent attended the principal national fairs (1999: 68%, 1998: 71%, 1997: 69%).

Buyer profiles remain consistent, with new and existing private customers still the most important category, representing 68 per cent of sales (1999: 62%). Purchasing dealers accounted for 14 per cent of sales (1998/99: 18%).

There are still two main sources for stock, together making up 71 per cent of items acquired (1999: 75%): 35 per cent at auction and 36 per cent from other dealers. Over the last eight years this figure has fluctuated from 71 per cent to 88 per cent.

As for staffing, 35 per cent of BADA members employ four or more staff including the proprietor, with 70 per cent of respondents operating from a shop or gallery with the rest trading exclusively from home or at fairs.