Britain may not yet have made it out of recession but at least one industry is booming. Profits at H&T, the country's largest chain of pawnbrokers, were up 52 per cent during the first half of the year, hitting £8.4m.
Yesterday, the company said much of the uplift had come from almost 50 temporary "Gold Bars" it has opened in shopping centres around the country. The shops have enabled cash-strapped consumers to take advantage of a rising gold price, selling H&T their unwanted jewellery to raise money.
The pawnbroker's chief executive, John Nichols, said it was not clear whether the rising interest in selling gold was related to the recession or to people being more aware of opportunities to sell old jewellery.
However, H&T now plans to have as many as 100 Gold Bars open by Christmas and is also expanding its network of traditional stores.
"Hopefully we will be represented in the majority of shopping centres by the end of the year," Mr Nichols said.