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The association's 11th annual survey of members and their performance gives statistics for many different aspects of their business, such as home and export sales, changes in turnover by region and speciality and sources of stock among others.

Together, they paint a picture of a healthy marketplace, leading BADA Secretary General Elaine Dean to comment: “This year's survey has demonstrated yet again the key role BADA dealers take at the centre of the art market. That our members alone represent a greater UK turnover than any one of the big four auction houses is proof that collectors still appreciate the personal service, expertise and guarantee provided by a professional dealer.”

The BADA arrived at their figures by sending out survey forms to all members. The response rate was 63 per cent – about 250 members and the results taken were assumed to be representative of the whole. Spot checks were carried out at Companies House to match published figures against member responses and the BADA reported a 100 per cent match.

Headline figures in the survey showed that the value of purchases made by overseas buyers had increased from 56 per cent last year to 62 per cent for 1998/99 – more than half of this going to the United States; 40 per cent of respondents had increased their turnover for the year; silver jewellery and glass dealers experienced the greatest increase in sales; 49 per cent of respondents in London sell more than £1m of art and antiques every year – an increase on previous years; 68 per cent of members exhibit at the principal national antiques fairs and the proportion exhibiting at overseas fairs has increased from 20 to 21 per cent.

The bulk of BADA members (42 per cent) turn over between £100,000 and £500,000 a year. Although this is a lower proportion than the previous year, the shift has been upwards, with nearly 19 per cent turning over between £500,000 and £1m, 16.7 per cent turning over £1m-2m and 10.3 per cent making £2m-5m. The proportion of dealers making more than £1m a year has risen from 22 per cent for 1997/98 to 35 per cent for 1998/99.

As expected, the handful of dealers turning over £10m or more are London or South East based, and the BADA said there were no great surprises when assessing turnover by speciality.

When it came to year-on-year changes in turnover, 41 per cent registered no change, 19 per cent noted a drop (16 per cent down between 0 and 20 per cent of their turnover, three per cent down more than this), but 40 per cent noted an increase (31 per cent up between 0 and 20 per cent of turnover, nine per cent up by more than this).

In the other categories measured, there have not been any hugely significant shifts: new and existing private customers remain the most important categories of buyer, representing 62 per cent of sales (1998: 61 per cent); dealers continue to account for nearly a fifth of sales at 18 per cent; 75 per cent of stock comes from two sources, auctions (40 per cent) and other dealers (35 per cent); 37 per cent of businesses employ four or more staff including the proprietor; 59 per cent of respondents and of members are based in London; and 74 per cent of respondents trade from a gallery or shop, with the remainder based at home.