H&T unveils record loan and acquisition of watch repair business for £4.3m

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

  • H&T’s pledge book rose to £84.2m at the end of June, from £48.3m the previous year
  • Lending volumes 40% higher than pre-pandemic; buying “floating” gold
  • H&T buys Essex-based watch service and repair center Swiss Time Service

The UK’s biggest pawnbroker has unveiled ‘record’ loans as cash-strapped Britons pledged valuables such as gold jewelery in return for short-term loans.

H&T, which offers unsecured loans in-store and online, said demand for pawnbrokers continued to grow in the first half of the year.

Its pledge book, which includes thousands of short-term loans linked to client property, stood at £84.2m at the end of June, up from £48.3m a year ago.

Optimistic: H&T said demand for loans has grown steadily over the past year

The company, which diversified into personal loans and foreign exchange after the gold price crashed in 2012, said loan volumes were 40% higher than before the pandemic.

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

H&T, which is a long-time customer of Essex-based Swiss Time Service, plans 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.

“This allows us to internalize watchmaking expertise and therefore improve our margins and expand the range of services we can offer our customers,” he added.

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

Swiss Time Services, which employs over 30 people, is an officially accredited service center for various prestigious watch brands such as Omega and Cartier.

In a business update ahead of its annual results, H&T also said revenue from its foreign exchange services more than doubled in the first half as travel resumed, with return transactions close to pre-Covid levels.

Meanwhile, retail sales have been “consistently strong”, while gold buying has been “dynamic” thanks to the higher gold price, “which has boosted 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 are entering the second half.

“I look forward to a full market update when we report on August 9.”

H&T Stocks rose 3.6% to 333p in Monday morning trade. They have increased by about 22% over the past year.

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