News-Antique.com - Feb 02,2010 - Stephan Ludwig is Chairman at Bloomsbury and Dreweatts, the new alliance of two great British auctioneers which is intended to widen their range of expertise and increase their international influence.
Having been a part of the sale of countless beautiful pieces, and with a personal interest in siverware, Stephan is especially interested in the ever greater opportunities provided for auctioneers and collectors using the internet.
What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
The variety; no two days are the same is an understatement - no two hours are the same!
What are the greatest challenges of your job?
Communication. Our business has been created out of the amalgamation of a series of smaller companies, each with its area of specialisation, geography and personalities.
The key to operating at the upper end of the auction industry is offering the broadest spectrum of expertise and choice to vendors - and this requires all the components within our business to speak as one.
What first attracted you to this field?
The commercial attractions of the Anglo-Saxon auction model are self evident - time has however, taught me that the apparently large commission rates do not necessarily lead to a profitable business!
What would you say are the key changes taken place since the merger?
The Dreweatts team have embraced the competitive advantages afforded by the inclusion of the world-leading expertise and international presence of Bloomsbury's Books and Manuscripts franchise.
For Bloomsbury, the opportunity to offer clients services across the whole range of their collections has significantly increased their competitive edge.
Dreweatts is obviously a very different company than when it first started. What would say are these differences?
The Fine Art Auction Group, Dreweatts' holding company, was established in 2001 with a strong technology-led vision.
Our integrated systems platform has been maintained with a view to pushing as much of the business online as is feasible, and the past 2 years' explosion in online live bidding activity is a testament to the future direction of this industry.
We are, and intend to remain, at the forefront of this revolution. Today I can, using my mobile phone, watch the progression of a consignment from first valuation, through cataloguing, sale and payment, from anywhere in the world...no abacus, no paper, no complicated book-keeping systems - that is progress!
How do you see the growth of Bloomsbury and Dreweatts business moving forward?
The two core businesses (Dreweatts' regional estates business and Bloomsbury's London books and works on paper business) will remain largely unchanged - they already operate in the top quarter of their respective markets.
Where we intend to expand is: (a) in the internationalisation of our core specialisations; (b) a structured and selective push into the contemporary art market; and (c) the pursuit of alliances with leading specialist auction houses in other international markets - eg, Germany's Hermann Historica.
What is your 5 year plan for the business?
My unequivocal goal is to grow hammer turnover beyond £100,000,000 and achieve a global top