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In the year ending December 31, 2011 the London firm, one of the few leading art and antiques retailers listed on the stock exchange, made profit before tax of £0.5m, compared to a loss of £1.4m in 2010.

With total sales down five per cent from £13.3m in 2010 to £12.7m in 2011, much of the improved outlook was attributed to property dealings.

Making the difference was the £1.3m 'exceptional profit' on the assignment of its lease on premises in New Bond Street where Mallett had been based in different locations for more than a century.

Lord Daresbury, chairman of Mallett, said that following the financial collapse in 2008, Mallett had realised that its cost base was too high. On February 23 the firm moved a short distance to an elegant former bishop's palace at Ely House, 37 Dover Street, which has reduced its rental costs by more than 50 per cent.

No dividend will be paid this year but Giles Hutchinson Smith, chief executive of Mallett, described Ely House as "the platform from which to grow the business and deliver consistent profits in the future".

He attributed the reduction in turnover to "significantly quieter" business in the United States where sales dropped from 39% to 34% of total revenue, but he could point to a 75% increase of sales to markets outside Europe and the US, including a small number of sales into Hong Kong where the firm has a consultant.

"We are beginning to target the Far East as an area of growth and this is an encouraging start to our new marketing initiative in that area." said Mr Hutchinson Smith.

Mallett has started 2012 with the sale of the Chandos chairs - a historic pair of George I armchairs - and a positive TEFAF Maastricht which saw a number of sales including a unique pair of 18th-century globes and a rare solid ivory chair which went to a new client from the Far East.