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The bespoke service has been designed exclusively for The Association of Art & Antiques Dealers by Clydesdale Financial Services, a subsidiary of Barclaycard.

An interest-free credit scheme, a commonplace in other areas of the retail trade, was an idea first mooted by former LAPADA chief executive John Newgas and it is now being realised by his successor, Sarah Harvey. Presenting her first major initiative since taking the job in February, she announced the new scheme to LAPADA members at a breakfast meeting at Olympia on Tuesday, June 8.

Ms Harvey told the Antiques Trade Gazette: “Many dealers already recognise the benefit of offering payment terms to their clients [often by the time-honoured system of post-dated cheques].

“However, this particular service means that LAPADA’s members no longer have to take the risk themselves, nor do they have to wait several months before they receive the full payment.”

It is Clydesdale Financial Services who will underwrite any transactions that members and their clients undertake as part of the LAPADA-CFS Interest Free Credit Scheme.

Credit is available from a minimum of £1200 up to a maximum of £20,000; however the package can also be used to part-finance the purchase of a higher value item.

Payment plans are available for anything between 12 and 60 months – depending upon the choice of the individual member, the client and the bank – and customers can be registered for the credit agreement either over the Internet Credit System or by a five-step credit proposal conducted over the telephone or by fax.

In return for offering the sort of payment plans that many of us use when buying white goods or a car, dealers wishing to operate the scheme will need to purchase a Category C Consumer Credit Licence available from the local Trading Standard office.

On each transaction dealers will also pay a subsidy to the underwriter that changes according to the term decided. These fees and the exact terms of the agreement were not disclosed to the Antiques Trade Gazette.

“We believe that this new initiative will often provide a useful tool to help our members close a sale, whilst opening up new opportunities for the UK consumer,” said Sarah Harvey.