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Chairman Rex Cooper informed shareholders in his statement that “as the profits of the first half of 1998 exceeded the corresponding figure for 1997 by 2.8 times, we did not expect to produce the same level of trade for the first half of 1999”.

Turnover was £9.844m compared with £10.635m for the same period last year. The interim dividend is up 1/2p to 2p with an intention to maintain the final dividend at 4.3p.

Although English furniture was not as strong as in the first half of 1998, other areas performed well, in particular a painting by the Scottish artist Gavin Hamilton, depicting the marriage of two Huguenot families, which was bought by the Tate Gallery, together with three other paintings which went to provincial museums.

Looking to the second half of the year, the company are concentrating on attending more major international fairs, staging further specialised exhibitions and maintaining their own website.