H&T on track as it weathers downturn
Pawnbroker H&T Group is expecting its full year profit to be in line with market expectations.
In a trading update prior to the announcement of its preliminary results for the year to 31 December, the group said the impact of low gold prices, competition and regulatory change all placed the business under significant pressure in 2014.
However, it said the business has generated strong cash flows and has continued to implement a range of strategies to improve performance going forward.
While the pledge book reduced by 12.7% to £38.5 million at the year-end, it has stabilised over the last six months and on a like-for-like basis reduced by just £0.3 million from 30 June 2014.
H&T’s focus on retail sales has continued to deliver growth with fourth quarter like-for-like retail sales increasing 10.5% on the same quarter in 2013 and gross profit rising by 7.4% period on period.
The group said: “The board expects that the current challenging market will accelerate the industry consolidation and rationalisation that we believe is necessary in the short term.”
During the year H&T closed eight underperforming stores, opened one new H&T Pawnbrokers, acquired one established pawnbroking store and opened three stand-alone Est1897 retail outlets.
At 31 December, the group operated from 191 stores, comprising 152 H&T Pawnbrokers stores and 39 Est1897 retail stores.
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