Jean-Luc Haddad from Grospiron in Paris explains why he and his son, Axel, decided to expand into the fine art moving and storage business.
For Jean-Luc Haddad, and many other established moving companies, the moving industry has become something of a commodity with significant price pressure. But the fine art business is different: here, the skills of the moving company are still valued.
Grospiron has invested in the fine art market. It has built specialist storage facilities at its Paris warehouse with manned security, CCTV, air conditioning, humidity control and a fleet of specialist, unmarked vehicles with tail lifts, air-ride suspension and alarm systems. The staff are different too, with separate management and crews specially trained in the delicate art of handling the world’s treasures.
“In the beginning I thought the fine art business could be merged with moving, but it doesn’t work that way,” he said. “Everything is different. In fact, it’s not even good to be seen to be too closely connected with the moving industry. One key difference is the need to have experienced fine art sales people right from the start, people who know the industry, know the buyers and understand what they want. Then they have to be prepared to travel and the business needs to be promoted aggressively. Dedicated software is also essential to ensure that it’s possible to produce the reports that customers need. It takes at least two years to see a return on investment.”
But once established, it’s worthwhile. Fill your warehouse with valuable artwork and you can charge more than if it’s filled with utility items. “A jar of caviar is worth more than a jar of fish paste,” said Jean-Luc. This is also the reason why the artwork is in store. Sometimes it can be passing through, but often the items have been bought as investments, they were never bought for display, so they will stay in store until they are sold, which could be a very long time. Then, of course, the storage company has an automatic opportunity to provide the shipping service.
Jean-Luc is a great believer in diversification. “In today’s market you have to diversify to remain independent,” he said. “If you stay with one product you will not survive.”
Axel Haddad runs Grospiron Fine Art