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The UK Column

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Brexit: To the surprise of many in the UK, an import tax of 20% has become payable on most goods imported from EU - rather like the Australian 10% GST. Plus a handling and collection fee from the carrier, unless that tax was charged at the time of payment (as eBay does now with Australia and US).

There can also be the inconvenience of having to go to the carrier’s office to pay and collect. There will be heated debate on the question of whether items are ‘antiques or works of art’ and therefore liable to be taxed at only 5%.

Overseas buyers: The UK is a member of the Convention on Common Transit. Australian/NZ buyers of goods in EU and consolidating shipments in UK are able to avoid UK border taxes by making a declaration that the items are destined elsewhere. But that is not as straightforward as it sounds. The law changed on 30 December. Go to gov.uk and search Customs Transit Procedures for the whole picture. It’s no wonder that our tax people recommend hiring an agent.

What are the new chairman’s priorities and thoughts? “My first plan was a road trip to meet and re-meet our members to hear their thoughts and wishes. —  Louise Phillips, BADA Chairman

Brexit deal already under pressure: Elements of the Brexit deal, a product of four years of negotiations, came under pressure within a month. The EU threatened to suspend part of it due to concerns about their supply of Covid-19 vaccines. The controls on livestock at Northern Irish ports were suspended because of threats to inspectors. Inspection of supplies to Northern Irish supermarkets has been eased for three months* to give everyone time to get up to speed. Some Scottish fishermen are landing catches in Demark due to delays and extra paperwork. An English beekeeper faced potential losses of $210,000 and a threat of prosecution when this year’s purchase of 15 million Italian bees was brought into question.

Why am I telling you this? It demonstrates that the agreement may well be changed by the time buyers are able to visit. So it would be best not to make plans about moving goods across borders, based on the assumption that things are going to stay as they are.

Covid-19: The trade, alongside everyone else, no longer expects any precautionary measures in place to be short-term. Events both inside the trade and out were discredited last year by promoters hanging onto them until they just had to be cancelled. Organisers of our most prestigious fairs are now posting dates for September onward, most with parallel online versions.
Some online versions of top fairs have in the past included little more than a handful of stock images from exhibitors, links to their websites and smartphone images posted on social media on the opening day. But Battersea Decorative (London) reset the scene last August when they announced that their Covid compliant October fair was going to be professionally filmed in full after set-up and posted online immediately. Although that fair had to be cancelled, the organisers have raised exhibitor and public expectations. PR Pippa Roberts: “Battersea expects to offer similar coverage for the next fair, especially if some international travel remains difficult.”
The newest online fairs presence is the Tuesday twice-monthly 700 stand indoors and out event at Kempton Park Racecourse, 30km west of London. In February, organiser Edward Cruttenden is due to launch Sunbury Stallholder Showcase on Instagram and via his own website. Initially an experimental profile of some fifty regular exhibitors, maintaining interest in the event during lockdown has had its challenges. Says Edward Cruttenden: “Our exhibitors have remained in touch and incredibly loyal during lockdown. This is one way of thanking them. Our first run at it is very much a trial, but if it works then the potential is limitless. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t be expanded and go on to feature the events themselves when they resume.”
The internet has already helped create thousands of online shops, centres and auctions without premises and associated overheads. There have already been some online-only fairs. If online fairs or new showcases generate significant sales, then the physical ones will inevitably be affected, especially if any allow online-only exhibitors.

Changes at the top: With 290 members, BADA is the UK’s leading trade association. Marco Forgione, a marketing specialist and their first appointed chief executive, left in January 2020 after four years. Although BADA decided not to renew the post, two recent appointments underline their continuing commitment to high quality member-focused PR and communications.
In December BADA appointed second generation dealer and member Louise Phillips as chairman. She left a career in PR and marketing in 1985 to join the family business, Elaine Phillips Antiques, so it’s no surprise that she is also chairman of BADA’s own PR and marketing committee. Additionally, BADA recently created the position of Director of Strategy and Operations. They have appointed art historian Kathryn Singer, previously general manager at Lorfords Antiques, Tetbury.
What are the new chairman’s priorities and thoughts? Louise Phillips: “My first plan was a road trip to meet and re-meet our members to hear their thoughts and wishes.” That started in December but was interrupted by Lockdown 3.
“I intend to support members in whatever way possible during these very challenging times - including through our web portal bada.org and by offering in-house specialist advice and webinars concerning new legislation and rules. The priorities right now are those relating to the transit of art and antiques following Brexit.
“We are also discussing the possibilities of organising BADA events outside London but open to all members. I see these as being smaller, niche events. Discussions are at an early stage and are of course subject to the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines both in UK and worldwide. I think the fairs and exhibitions calendar will look very different going forward.
“In 2021 BADA is embarking on an exciting programme of expansion. Our current social media campaign as BADA1918 [year founded] is resulting in high levels of interest from new clients and is attracting many views, including 750,000 a month on Pinterest.”

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Ivor Hughes
REPORTER