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Among a wealth of statistics, their 2005 survey of members – the first since 2002 – shows turnover and pre-tax profits taking a healthy about-turn, as our table shows.

Answers provided by about half of SLAD’s 106 members indicate that 2004 had turned out better than expected, with only 23 per cent saying it had been worse.

Importantly, 43 per cent expect 2005 to be even better, with only 15 per cent disagreeing.
The survey, which covers many aspects of trade, appears to confound certain assumptions. For instance, attendance at fairs as a whole has not dropped off, despite increasing costs, with more than three quarters of dealers standing at one event or more during the year.

Half the fairs attended were in the UK, 29 per cent in the US and 20 per cent in Europe. More SLAD members stood at the 20/21 British Art Fair than at any other event, with Grosvenor House and Maastricht joint second. The other top events internationally were the New York International Fine Art Fair, Art Islington, Palm Beach Art and Antiques. However, it was Art Basel that was seen as the best fair all round by the dealers.

Although many in the trade are giving up their galleries in favour of trading by appointment only, this does not appear to be a trend among SLAD dealers. More than three quarters deal from a gallery, 13 per cent have more than one UK base and 19 per cent have an overseas base – most in New York – in addition to their London premises.

Nearly all dealers have websites and two thirds believe they bring in extra business.

Assessing how European Union measures affect trade, 65 per cent – as opposed to 51 per cent in 2002 – expect droit de suite to damage business.