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Financial Times

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Deloitte tell clients: buy antiques now

DELOITTE, the leading accounting and business consulting firm, has recently turned its attention to the antique furniture market and concluded it is a good time to acquire a “proven asset at a low price”.

In what is traditionally a quiet time in the financial sector, Ian Stewart, the chief economist at Deloitte, consulted the data produced annually by the Antique Collectors’ Club (ACC) and issued an August statement to clients on the findings.

Documenting the changes in the antique furniture market over the past five years, Mr Stewart wrote: “We think that the credit crisis could be supportive of antique furniture prices. First, a low return on cash provides investors with incentives to put money into less orthodox assets.

“Second, the credit crunch has highlighted the need for investors to put their money into a range of assets. Last year all the major assets – equities, houses, commodities – fell. Antiques are illiquid and they generally avoid the big price swings seen in financial markets.

“Third, for those who worry about the long-term effects of governments printing money, antique furniture offers a hedge against future inflation.”

But for Deloitte the best argument for buying old over new is “simply that antique furniture is better made and cheaper than new furniture”.

One new statistic they added to the ACC data was that in the last six years the price of newly-made furniture has risen by an average of 32 per cent. By their analysis, the price of a Georgian mahogany chest of drawers that may have fallen by 20 per cent in the same period has effectively dropped by over 50 per cent relative to its modern equivalent.

Deloitte concluded: “Last August we argued that this slump in prices for antique furniture had been driven by modernism and the rise of retailers like IKEA and that antique furniture was starting to look undervalued. One year on our view is unchanged: now could be a time to bet against modernism and look into buying a functional, proven asset at a low price.”

By Roland Arkell

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