Bernard Shapero’s Shapero Rare Books and Shapero Modern have taken new galleries in Mayfair while Art Deco dealer Matthew Foster is joining the Cecil Court ‘hub’.
According to the British Retail Consortium, footfall in central London has fallen more than 50% since the pandemic, because of workers, visitors and tourists staying away.
However, in Mayfair Shapero has committed to two new ground-floor galleries and an upper-floor space.
Bernard Shapero said: “I believe that when this pandemic is over the West End will come back. Pre-Covid, London was booming with hotels being built and I believe in two or three years’ time we will look back at this nightmare but we will have recovered. People still crave experiences and being together.
“Visitors will return to hotels, theatres, shops and restaurants. It may well be different but I believe human nature will not change and London will remain a great city.”
Shapero added: “Rents may become more affordable and we were able to have the opportunity to take the ground floor on New Bond Street on a shortterm lease because of the troubles of the wider retail sector.”
The two Shapero businesses left their previous home of St George Street, Mayfair, in October and Shapero Rare Books opened on the first floor at 106 New Bond Street in early November. A ground-f loor retail space selling antiquarian books and prints below at 105 New Bond Street will open in December (restrictions allowing). The 5000 sq ft shop is the first ground-floor book shop to open on the prestigious thoroughfare, according to Shapero.
Shapero Modern, selling Modern and Contemporary prints, opened in October at 41-43 Maddox Street.
Shapero is also keen to host joint exhibitions with other like-minded dealers.
Shapero Modern’s gallery director Tabitha Philpott- Kent’s first planned exhibition in Maddox Street is Frank Stella: What You See Is What You See running from January 28 to March 20, 2021.
Art Deco opening
Number 11 Cecil Court has been taken by Matthew Foster’s Art Deco Gallery. He plans to open by mid-December.
Foster is moving from Grays Antique Centre where he has traded for the past four years.
He worked with his parents in Portobello Road market in the early 1980s and established his business in 1987.
Also in Cecil Court, art dealership Panter & Hall, celebrating 20 years in business, has more than doubled the size of its existing shop by taking on the lease next door and now operates from numbers 22-24. The larger space will be split between a Contemporary gallery in one shop and decorative modern paintings in the other.
Joint founder Matthew Hall said the firm had decided to expand before lockdown. He believes, despite around 40-60% of its business now being done online, it still needs physical galleries (in Cecil Court and Pall Mall).
He added: “Cecil Court is an amazing place and the landlord is wonderful. The street is probably the only place in London that passing trade, more or less, pays the rent. In between the lockdowns we saw buyers return to the gallery. Passing trade was good even with the theatres closed.”
A Mayfair picture dealer is also believed to be planning a move to Cecil Court.
‘Make grants available’
Map and book dealer Tim Bryars, of Bryars & Bryars in Cecil Court, said: “This is great news for Cecil Court and the West End. But the lockdown is very difficult for us dealers. November is usually my biggest sales month after June so being closed now is very hard. I believe more grants should be available to see us through this.
“I am concerned about how trade will be after lockdown. It will take a long time for the West End to recover and we need more support.”
Close by in Covent Garden, David Kovats is to open a Contemporary art gallery at 80 Long Acre next month.
Separately, Old Master dealer Derek Jones is returning to Duke Street in St James’s after nearly four years away. Based in Duke Street since 1985, the dealership spent the past four years at Georgian House at 10 Bury Street but Johns is now back with a new address of 44 Duke Street.