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New focus for antique dealers

THE combination of the global economic downturn and the weak Australian dollar has led some of WA’s largest antique stores to diversifying their business into overseas markets.

Heading the list of antique export destinations are Europe and the United States.

John Brans from Clive Brans Antiques believes high exchange rates have affected his business. He said that not only were overseas antiques more expensive to buy, but in order to retain custom back home, profit margins were being eroded in an effort to offer local clients value for money.

“But by the same token, it has obviously become more desirable to export items to the UK or the US and end up doing well out of the exchange,” Mr Brans said.

According to Stuart Scurr, owner of Antique Importers of WA, exchange rate fluctuations meant imported antiques were getting more expensive all the time, requiring a change in the focus of his business.

“That’s what we are doing, we are exporting, which is another new side of our business,” Mr Scurr said.

“We’ve exported to the UK and the United States.

“Their market is a lot bigger than ours … and the items are easily sold over there, we don’t have to stock them for very long

“We had our biggest sale ever this year and that went to the US.

“The person bought a whole container and their biggest complaint was, because they had bought it from photographs, that they thought it was too cheap, so the goods wouldn’t be good enough.

“But when he received the goods he was thrilled to bits.”

The antique industry in WA is predominantly based on importing high-quality items from the UK and Europe, which means owners of antique shops have to travel frequently in order to purchase new stock and keep up with international trends.

Many antique buyers, however, are electing not to travel to auctions in the UK and Europe.

Goodwood House Antiques principal Frank Richmond claims the low dollar and international uncertainty have presented him with the opportunity to buy goods cheaper, as there is less competition when bidding for items.

“At the moment there are very few Australians (antique buyers) in the UK and almost no Americans, so we’ve bought some wonderful stuff and a lot of it is sold already before it gets here,” he said

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