H&T Group has released its preliminary results for the year ended December 31 2015, citing a 3.9% increase in gross profits overall to £47.5m.
Profit before tax was up 23.6% from £5.5m in 2014 to £6.8m in 2015, while gross pledge book grew by 1.3% to £39m.
Profit after tax increased to £5.4m in 2015, compared to £4.3m in 2014.
Looking at key performance indicators, the report states that retail sales fell by 4.5% from £30.9m in 2014 to £29.5m in 2015, while the number of stores decreased by 1.0% from 191 in 2014 to 189 in 2015.
Despite a backdrop of volatile commodity prices including gold and difficult trading conditions in the sector, H&T says it has seen a year of steady progress.
Speaking on the report H&T chairman Peter McNamara says: “The UK economy has improved over the past year and we have seen a halt in the decline in our pledge book with some worthwhile growth in other product lines, notably Foreign Exchange, Personal Loans and Buyback. A number of initiatives have been launched which are still in the proving period; we will expand and develop those that are successful over coming months.”
Going forward the company’s strategy is to continue to develop products aimed at those customers who need a simple and straightforward loan, either secured or unsecured.
H&T will also be introducing a more disciplined approach to the retailing of jewellery, and the ways in which the company promotes consumer finance products over mobile applications.
“We have reduced further the debt in the business and at the same time increased the potential funding to enable the business to seize the opportunities that will be presented by a changing market,” adds McNamara. “Continuing high levels of consumer debt and the pressures on mainstream lenders create new opportunities in our market. The technologies that are evolving in the retail space will enable us to make better use of our loan centre, jewellery centre, and the store network, alongside the continuing development of our on-line services.”
John Nichols, chief executive of H&T Group, comments: “H&T has traded well in spite of very difficult conditions. The market remains challenging and as the high street landscape continues to change, businesses which fail to adapt will continue to struggle. We have built a robust infrastructural platform which, when combined with the development of new products and the solid performance of our core businesses, means we are increasingly well placed in this new environment.
“Customers remain at the heart of H&T’s business. In 2015 we have stabilised our core pawnbroking business and made good progress in developing our new revenue lines. We will continue to serve the demands of this customer base as their needs evolve and to develop new markets. We are also pleased to confirm that we obtained authorisation from the FCA in February 2016.”