Christies cuts costs for 5% advance

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CHRISTIES, the international fine art auctioneer, has posted pre-tax profits of pounds 6.7m for 1992, up by 5 per cent in spite of a pounds 1.7m redundancy charge and a 42 per cent drop in interest income.

Christies has made more than 300 people redundant worldwide since 1990, some 20 per cent of the workforce. Figures for the year to 31 December 1992 show a cut in operating costs of some pounds 29m, or 22 per cent, since that time.

Christies has also increased its buyer's premium in New York, London, Switzerland and Hong Kong. 'In the last year we have taken decisive steps to enhance the future profitability of the business for our shareholders,' said Christopher Davidge, chief executive.

He said Christies was pleased to see total sales climbing after two years in decline. Turnover was pounds 636m, against pounds 583m in 1991.

Auction sales were up by 9 per cent. A painting by Canaletto - The Old Horse Guards, London - which was sold to Andrew Lloyd Webber for pounds 10.1m in April, was the most expensive item sold at auction during the year.

A total of 69 lots sold for more than dollars 1m ( pounds 699,000) in 1992, compared with 61 in the previous year, and 1992 was Christies' most successful year for negotiated sales to heritage bodies.

Earnings per share were 2.21p, compared with 2.12p last year. An unchanged final dividend of 1p gives a total for the year of 1.5p.