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The UK’s fastest growing private companies: Hot 100 2015 – (3) Hamiltons Galleries

2014's number one, Hamiltons Galleries has fallen into third position. However, the London art destination has still achieved healthy growth and posts latest turnover figures of £38.2m.
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Name: Hamiltons Galleries
Industry/sector: Retail and related services
Date founded: 1977
The boss: Tim Jefferies
Location: London
Latest turnover: £38.1m
Three-year compound growth rate (%): 108.36
Latest EBITDA: £2.8m

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Hamiltons Galleries made the top list on the Hot 100 2014, but the company slid down slightly to this year’s third place having been outpaced by 1886-launched flour mill Whitworths.

Positioned in the heart of London’s Mayfair, just a stone’s throw from Oxford Street, Hamiltons considers itself “among the world’s foremost galleries of photography”.

With a life span of almost 40 years, the gallery is proud to host works from modern, international and contemporary artists.

Tim Jefferies, a man known perhaps as well known for his love life – he’s reported to have had romances with Elle McPherson, Claudia Schiffer and Kylie Minogue – as his business affairs, is the leader of Hamiltons and has been since the doors opened back in 1977.

Now, apparently publicity-shy, Jefferies has settled down with a wife and two children.

Offering insight into his lucrative industry, he said: “One of the great aspects to photography and the photography market is that for a fraction of the cost of a comparably important painting, you can buy a photograph by Richard Avedon or by Irving Penn for $20,000 or $30,000. Now, that’s a fairly large sum of money for a new purchase, but you’re buying a work by a photographer who is as important in photography as Picasso is in painting. You’re buying the work of a master.

“And with new clients, generally, nothing excites them more than buying something by a master and mentioning it to people — and their friends will respond, ‘oh, Irving Penn, I know that’, and that makes the buyer feel confident. And then, when I let them know in a year or two’s time that the thing they spent $20,000 on has increased in value by 20 percent or something — that makes people feel good.”

Photography today is a world dominated by smartphones and digital cameras, but the trend is only likely to deliver more value to the methods of yesteryear, according to Jefferies.

“Look at how photography has changed in the last 10 years – now traditional film photography looks backward. So today’s photography has made yesterday’s more valuable. In the same way, the photography of the future will make today’s photography more valuable,” he said.

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Zen Terrelonge

Zen Terrelonge is the deputy editor of Real Business, specialising in media, innovation, technology and the digital sector. A media professional with eight years worth of experience he has worked for both startup and established publications.

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