H&T unveils record lending and £4.3m acquisition of watch repair firm

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Pawnbroker H&T unveils record lending as cash-strapped Britons pledge valuables in exchange for loans

  • H&T’s pledge book rose to £84.2m at the end of June from £48.3m a year before
  • Lending volumes 40% higher than pre-pandemic; gold buying ‘buoyant’
  • H&T buys  Essex-based watch servicing and repair centre Swiss Time Service

The UK’s largest pawnbroker has unveiled ‘record’ lending as cash-strapped Britons pledged valuables such as gold jewellery in exchange for short-term loans.

H&T, which provides unsecured loans both in store and online, said demand for pledge lending had continued to gather momentum in the first half of the year.

Its pledge book, which includes thousands of short-term loans linked to customers’ belongings, was £84.2million at the end of June, up from £48.3million a year ago. 

Upbeat: H&T said demand for loans has been rising steadily over the past year

The company, which branched into personal loans and foreign exchange after the gold price slump of 2012, said lending volumes were 40 per cent higher than before the pandemic. 

It unveiled the strong performance alongside the acquisition of Swiss Time Services, a watch servicing and repair centre, for £4.3million.

H&T, which is a long-standing customer of Essex-based Swiss Time Service, expects to send up to 4,000 watches for service or repair this year. 

H&T chief executive Chris Gillespie said the deal was ‘an important strategic step’ for the company. 

‘It enables us to bring watch expertise in-house and consequently, improve margins and broaden the range of services we can offer to our customers,’ he added.

I look forward to working with Tony Coe and the outstanding team at Swiss Time Services. 

Swiss Time Services, which employs more than 30 people, is an officially accredited service centre for various prestige watch brands such as Omega and Cartier. 

In a trading update ahead of its full-year results, H&T also said that revenues at its foreign currency services more than doubled in the first half as travelling resumed, with transaction back close to pre-Covid levels.

Meanwhile, retail sales have been ‘consistently strong’, while gold purchasing has been ‘buoyant’ thanks to a rising gold price, ‘which has driven both volumes and improved margins’.

Gillespie added: ‘I am delighted with the progress we have made in the first half of 2022, and the momentum with which we enter the second half of the year. 

‘I look forward to updating the market fully when we report on the 9th of August.’

H&T shares rose 3.6 per cent to 333p in morning trade on Monday. They have risen by around 22 per cent over the last year. 

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