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'Challenging' art market hits Momart's revenue

Art logistics firm's results are down due to "Brexit related and global uncertainty", sharply reducing activity among commercial galleries and auction houses

Global uncertainty means galleries and auction houses are shipping less art © Fancycrave

The art handling and storage company Momart has revealed a 13.4% drop in revenue in its half year results, published earlier this week. Profit before tax for the half year (to 30 September) dropped 86% to £60,000 (from £390,000 in the same period in 2018). This is in part due to the mortgage interest on the bank loan taken out to finance the purchase of the freehold on the new warehouse in Leyton, east London.

The results were presented by the FIH Group, a UK and Falkland Islands based services group, which owns numerous businesses, including Momart. The latter’s revenue dropped to £8.04m in the first half of the year [2018: £9.28m], which was attributed to "uncertainty amongst high-net-worth individuals and ensuing reduced activity by commercial clients [auction houses and commercial galleries] in the face of challenging UK and international art market conditions."

In particular, the report notes that commercial gallery services revenue fell by 26.5%, to £2.7m (2018: £3.7m), a level "not seen since 2015." Overall the FIH Group described its position as a ‘Resilient performance despite market pressures’, with profit before tax as £1.25m (down from 2018’s £1.35m).

That the art market is cited as experiencing anxiety linked to "Brexit and the wider global investment outlook” is hardly surprising. Last week’s auctions in New York were subdued and reports of collectors making plans for a range of economic and political scenarios are rising.

Conversely, Momart’s art storage division was reported to be performing well, with revenue increasing 3.3% to £1.04m and new clients said to be coming on board. This suggests that the FIH Group’s investment of £19.6m (including stamp duty) to buy the freehold of art storage warehouses in London last year paid off and echoes broader trends of demand for storage- including the recent announcement of a 70,000 sq. m storage facility in Moscow for museum use (due to begin in 2020).

Momart’s stream of work with public institutions similarly looks to be stable, with major projects so far this year including including the V&A’s Mary Quant (until February 2020) and the Royal Academy’s Antony Gormley (Until 3 December 2019).

No one from Momart was available to comment.