The demise of the Mews, part of the Grays Antiques centre in Mayfair, will mean more than 50 art and antiques dealers will need to be rehoused within the next year.
Grays Antiques’ owner Bennie Gray has hired property agents in the hope of finding a base for a new antiques centre in central London.
Gray told ATG: “Overheads in Mayfair are insane. The Mews is no longer viable. This is my first big failure. We are trying to make it as easy as possible for people to relocate.”
The lease on the property comes to an end in roughly a year’s time.
The impact of Crossrail works for the newly named Elizabeth line, the highspeed east-west train link, has disrupted access to the site in recent years. Gray said: “The footfall has dropped to nothing and a third of the place is empty. It has finally got to the point where we cannot sustain it any longer.”
Open for 40 years
Grays Antiques, at 58 Davies Street, which houses 75 dealers, and Grays Mews, at 1-7 Davies Mews, have been in operation since the late 1970s.
The owner describes the centre as the last place left that provides “affordable space for antiques dealers in central London”.
He said despite rising costs the price of a small stall had been £100 a week – in real terms the same price that Gray had charged stallholders in 1964 when he opened his first covered market, the Antiques Supermarket, near Selfridges.
“I had managed to keep overheads the same for all the years but it is not possible anymore,” said Gray.
The dealers in the Mews sell a mixture of wares, compared with the focus on jewellery dealers in the main Grays Antiques centre.
The jewellery dealers have, to a large extent, remained profitable as they trade from less space and sell higher-value objects.
Committed to Grays
Gray said he is committed to keeping the main Grays Antiques centre open. He has a long lease from landlord Grosvenor, who he described as supportive.
With the Crossrail works now at an end, Gray is planning a refurbishment to improve lighting, access, signage, flooring and facilities he hopes will give the centre a “grander feel”.
Some dealers from the Mews will be offered space in the newly refurbished main building.
Gray is also planning to reconfigure some of the space at his other business, Alfies in Church Street, north-west London. Alfies, which currently provides space for around 60 dealers, could accommodate another 10 or so once works are complete.
Gray hopes he will be able to secure a site to create a new antiques centre and open it in partnership with a group of dealers. “We are looking at potential buildings and will be open to ideas and offers. The cost of space in central London is scary. But I remain optimistic. We will do our best.”