Pawnbroker Albemarle & Bond to create 300 jobs


Albemarle & Bond today hailed "the age of the pawnbroker" as it unveiled plans to create 300 jobs by opening 25 new stores next year.

The group, which has 169 stores and 38 gold-buying "pop-up" shops, said it will take advantage of lower high street rents to open the outlets in 2012.

Albemarle said it has benefited as banks tightened their lending criteria, "failing to provide people with straightforward and inexpensive ways to borrow".

Chief executive Barry Stevenson said this trend, and the industry's efforts to change its image over recent years, mean 2012 will herald "the age of the pawnbroker".

He added: "With fewer people able to get credit through the banks, pawnbroking has an opportunity to play an increasingly important role in many people's finances, whether they need some quick cash to get the car through its MOT, or run a business and need some cash to tide them over until a customer pays."

He added that Albemarle has some of the highest redemption rates in the industry, with people bringing back the same item several times when they need access to cash.

Reading-based Albemarle, which also trades as Herbert Brown, believes the pawnbroking market in the UK is still under-served when compared to the US, but the drop in store rents to "a sensible level" since the recession was helping fuel its expansion plans.

The group recently posted higher profits for the 20th year in a row, up 5% to £21 million in the year to June 30.

The soaring price of gold has also helped boost its jewellery and gold-buying operations.