BADA survey results

Posted: 2012-07-26 19:06:12 - Last updated: 2012-08-03 19:43:51

Good business still being done, but with marked regional variations

The annual combined sales of BADA members are estimated at £855 million (c. $1.4 billion) per annum, up by 22% from the previous year. Not only do a larger proportion of members now have turnovers in excess of £1 million but only 27% of BADA dealers have reported a decrease in sales in 2011 when compared to the previous year; sales for 73% of members either remained static or improved.

About the survey

The British Antique Dealers’ Association (BADA), has published these conclusions as part of the key findings contained in its annual membership survey. The survey of members provides financial markers for some of the key antique and art dealers in Britain.

Unusual among surveys of this nature, the BADA Annual Survey always achieves a high response rate; this time the survey was based on results from 50% of BADA’s members (2010: 55%), lending authority to its findings.

Marked variations

The headline figures mask a more complex story, against an ever-changing economic climate and an unpredictable customer base. Dealers in higher-priced works are continuing to thrive, with continuing opportunities to sell to the very rich, particularly at the major London and overseas fairs. Dealers located away from London and the Home Counties have had a harder time than their Metropolitan colleagues.

Likewise there exist large disparities between different disciplines. Dealers in Asian art works, silver and jewellery, who already tend to have turnovers in the higher bands, are reporting among the highest increases in sales, whereas disciplines such as ceramics and glass appear more muted. The picture for furniture is also complex. 39% of furniture dealers reported increased sales, yet a sizable 33% said their turnover had fallen, which is actually a higher proportion experiencing a fall in sales than in our 2010 survey (31%).

International trade

Analysis of international sales has provided some very interesting results. At first sight nothing much seems to have changed when compared to the previous year: across the membership as a whole the split between home and export sales was 48% of sales to the UK, 26% to the US and 16% to Europe. The number of dealers applying for export licences also remained similar, at 23% of all respondents. Delve beneath this and we see that although Americans accounted for 28% of London and Home Counties dealers’ sales (up from 26% the previous year), for dealers located further from London sales to Americans fell to only 11% of total sales (down from 23% the previous year).

How the internet affects sales

BADA members indicated in their responses the extent to which they depend on the internet for business. Although 61% reported making sales via the internet, the proportion of all sales made in this way by the membership as a whole is still relatively low, at just 6% - representing some £11 million of sales annually - (2010: 8%, 2009: 4%).

It has been suggested in other reports that the proportion of sales made by the antiques trade through the internet is larger, but BADA itself has no evidence of this. Individual dealers’ responses vary considerably as to the proportion of their own sales made in this way: the figures range between none and 80%. Those reporting higher percentages of internet sales were mainly dealers whose total annual turnovers were towards the lower end of the spectrum. And 39% said they had not sold on the internet at all.

Fine art and antique fairs

Sales at fairs continue to grow, matching an increasing number of dealers who no longer have their own retail premises. In 2007 fair sales represented 21% of total sales, increasing to 24% in 2009, 25% in 2010 and now 29%. It is becoming increasingly common for BADA to receive membership applications from dealers who do not maintain a trading premises.

Inter-dealer trade

Inter-dealer trading has long been a key feature of the antiques trade and the survey shows that 28% by value of members’ stock is sourced from other dealers. By contrast however, sales by BADA members to other dealers are notably lower and fell from 16% in 2010 to 13% in 2011. It would appear therefore that BADA dealers are more likely to buy from other dealers than to sell to them - indicative of their position in the art-market “food chain”.

Business rates

BADA is conscious of the business problems facing members at present. Not only are there rent pressures on many dealers, but many pay cripplingly-high business rates. With this in mind we asked members about their rates, and in a particular whether the 2010 rating revaluation had made an impact on them. We found that 29% of members have experienced business rates increases, the majority of whom suffered increases of up to 20%. A quarter of those who experienced an increase found it to be between 20% and 40%. A number of members indicated that they had engaged a surveyor to assist in ‘appealing’ their rating revaluation, and so far 22% of these members have achieved savings, 30% made no savings and the remaining 48% still await the outcome of their appeal.

BADA Secretary General's opinion

Commenting on the survey, BADA Secretary General, Mark Dodgson, said:

“The results of our most recent survey repeat the positive message for the majority of members that we found last time. That more members have posted high annual sales is good news, but I am conscious that even within BADA’s membership dealers are not a homogeneous group. For every three dealers who may be holding their own, and in some cases flourishing, there is probably one dealer who is finding business very tough.

“Whether encumbered by high rents, high rates, Artist’s Resale Right or a lack of stock, everyone is having to work that bit harder and to chase customers in a very targeted way. For those who succeed the rewards can indeed be considerable, as some dealers have found this summer, but this does not apply to all.

“We are doing our best to help, where we can. For example, The Crown Estate has now agreed to recognise art dealers as part of the character of St James’s, so we hope that this will help prevent other tenants from moving in and rents and rates from rising too steeply, as the fashion brands continue to edge down Bond Street, pushing out the dealers there.

“Our survey has shown that many members have successfully managed to get their rates reduced, so I advise those members who have not already done so to consider whether they too could appeal against their own 2010 revaluation.

“We also hope that more members will harness the relatively inexpensive medium of the internet. Although 86% of members have a website it is disappointing that only 61% manage to achieve any sales via the internet. The BADA’s own website is in the process of being improved, which I hope will encourage members to think about their own sites, and I will be making further announcements about the internet in the Autumn.”

Findings at a glance

In summary the key findings of the survey are:

• BADA members’ combined annual turnover is estimated to be £855 million, equivalent to $1.4 billion.

• 37% of members experienced improved sales, compared to 35% recorded the previous year. Furthermore, a smaller proportion of members experienced a fall in sales than a year earlier: 27% compared to 30% in 2010. 36% reported no change.

• The proportion of export sales, at 52%, was only slightly down on the previous year and, at 26% of all sales, the USA remained the largest overseas market for the members as a whole. Although London and South-eastern dealers increased sales to American buyers, for dealers outside this area sales to them decreased.

• The trade appears to show other marked regional variations: 45% of London dealers increased their turnover, whereas in some regions only 19% of members did so.

• The buoyancy of the Asian art market meant that only 6% of dealers in Oriental objects reported a decrease in year on year sales. 71% of our Asian art dealers reported annual turnovers in excess of £500,000.

• 29% of all business was conducted at fairs (25% in 2010). Shops and galleries still remain the main points of sale, accounting for 51%; this is a slight decrease on the 53% of the previous period.

• Although 61% of respondents sell via the internet, these sales still represent only 6% of total overall sales for the membership. For those who provided information we estimate that all such sales come to at least £11 million a year. Only 21% said they source stock from the internet, representing only 3% of purchases by value.

• 29% of members have experienced increases in their Business Rates. For a quarter of these dealers their rates rose by as much as 20% to 40%. 22% of members who engaged a surveyor to appeal against their revaluation succeeded in obtaining savings.

A copy of the BADA Annual Survey 2011 may be downloaded as a PDF file in the attachment below:

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