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Their stock of fine English and French furniture and works of art is still world renowned but modes of dealing have changed. With turnover and profits down 90 per cent in 2002, Partridge heightened their international profile by aggressively going out and chasing business, particularly in the United States.

The firm’s most recent set of figures show turnover still down but profits registering a complete turnaround (£325,000 after dividends and tax for the first six months of 2003, compared with a slight loss for the same period last year). Earnings per share were 1.47p compared with 0.02p over the two periods.

John Partridge and the board have held back an interim dividend payment because of the uncertain economic situation left by the Iraq war, but things are certainly looking up, not least with the renewal of their Bond Street lease for a further 15 years.

Last September Partridge’s, in tandem with fellow Mayfair firm Pelham Galleries, took a large stand at the Paris Biennale and in October they will be exhibiting at the International Fine Art and Antique Dealers Show in New York.

They mounted a successful selling show in New York in January at the galleries of Dickinson Roundell, which they intend to repeat this autumn, and ths summer mounted an acclaimed selling exhibitition of French 18th century clocks in London.

Speaking to the Antiques Trade Gazette, Mrs Lucy Morton, a director of Partridge’s, agreed the dealership had actively pursued a more aggressive marketing policy. “We had to get out and about a bit and look for new clients, and fairs are the way to find them,” she said.

“Our traditional way of finding clients has changed. Fairs are where people go when they are contemplating buying, and they may not necessarily have heard of us.”