H&T Group says demand for small-sum, short-term cash loans remains strong

"We have made a good start to the year due to the resilient nature of our product set, our investment in people, and our digital initiatives."

Gold on scales
The rising price of gold should provide the H&T business with tailwinds

Increased pawnbroking, personal lending and retail activity drove a first-half increase in pre-tax profits at H&T GROUP PLC (LON:HAT).

Profit before tax (PBT) rose to £6.8mln in the first half of 2019 from £6.3mln the year before on revenue that rose to £70.0mln from £68.5mln.

WATCH: H&T Group reports good growth in pawnbroking, customer lending and new customers

The group said it saw growth in its pawnbroking business, an increase in customer lending and a rise in the number of new customers.

The relatively new foreign currency side of the business is also growing, driven by improved systems and in-store displays.

The net pledge book, including accrued interest, increased by 3.8% to £53.8mln from £47.8mln at the end of June 2018.

The demand for small-sum, short-term cash loans remains strong, H&T asserted.

Net debt narrowed to £11.6mln from £16.8mln a year earlier.

Since the end of the reporting period, the group has acquired 65 sites previously occupied by a competitor company, The Money Shop, thereby increasing its estate to 248 stores.

"We can be confident of the success of this important transaction as a result of the investment in people and processes made over many years,” declared John Nichols, H&T's chief executive.

“The acquired stores conduct similar business and will geographically complement our existing store estate. With the application of H&T's appropriate capital, staffing support and management, and with the expansion of pledge business and the introduction of our personal lending products the investment will provide significant value to shareholders,” Nicholls predicted.

All of the new stores have been integrated into the group.

The interim dividend has been increased to 4.7p from 4.4p the year before.

The average gold price in the reporting period increased by 5.4% to £1,010 per troy ounce from £958 in the corresponding period of last year.

“A strengthening gold price is helpful to our business,” Nicholls noted.

Quick facts: H&T GROUP PLC

Price: 330 GBX

Market: LSE
Market Cap: £131.55 m

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