Strong gold price gives profits a lift at pawnbroker H&T

Pawnbroker H&T saw its shares jump 10 per cent yesterday after a strong half-time profits rise partly on the back of a favourable gold price.

H&T revealed a 62% jump in first-half profits. Picture: Contributed
H&T revealed a 62% jump in first-half profits. Picture: Contributed

Gold is currently trading at about £989 an ounce, benefiting from the weakness of sterling since last summer’s Brexit vote.

• READ MORE: Pawnbroker chain Ramsdens reveals sparkling profits

H&T, celebrating its 120th anniversary, revealed that its pre-tax profits jumped 62 per cent to £6 million in the first six months of 2017 compared with £3.7m in the same period last year.

Chief executive John Nichols said it was also “pleasing” that the group’s personal loans book had increased 87 per cent to £11.8m “and there is scope to maintain this trajectory”.

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He added: “A combination of competitive pricing and increasing awareness has seen us establish ourselves in this market and customers are now actively seeking us out.”

H&T said it had also expanded its collection of “high-end” watches and that it was “well placed to cement our position in this marketplace”.

Shares in women’s fashion retailer Laura Ashley came unstitched yesterday, shedding 18 per cent on the group’s second profit warning in six months.

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The group said in a two-paragraph stock exchange statement that trading has “continued to be demanding”.

Laura Ashley, which also sells homewares, added: “The board of the company therefore expect net pre-tax profits for the year ended 30 June 2017 will now be materially below market expectations.”

In addition, the company flagged up an exceptional £2.8m impairment charge due to the revaluation of a freehold property it owns.

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The stock closed down 2p at 9p. Laura Ashley’s shares have lost 60 per cent of their value in the past 12 months.

The group did not disclose the location of the revaluated property, but as of the end of 2016, its portfolio consisted of 190 stores across the UK, including 25 concessions.