Sotheby’s Invests in Digital

The Art Newspaper:  Sotheby’s second-quarter income down 14%, but revenue is up as auction house invests in digital

Chief executive Tad Smith hints at reining in costs through automation and efficiency cuts, and plans to grow jewellery, wine and art advisory businesses

Sotheby’s made a clear commitment to the increased use of technology and digital marketing in its second quarter results call this morning, but such innovations come at a cost. Tad Smith, the company’s chief executive, said that Sotheby’s has “been adding staff who are skilled specialists, experts in needed technologies, strong salespeople, and excellent digital marketers”, perhaps reflected in a $12m rise in salaries from the same period last year. But, he added the company will “pause and re-examine our cost structure in areas that are not growing or where automation, data, or standardisation of processes will yield significant savings.” He added: “We believe that there are numerous opportunities for our company to improve efficiency and productivity, and we will address this opportunity by the end of this year.” Sotheby’s declined to elaborate on whether such efficiencies would have staffing implications.

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