H&T pursues aggressive expansion plan

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The pawnbroker seeks to double its number of stores by 2015.

Harvey and Thompson (H&T) chief executive John Nichols says the country’s largest pawnbroker will be opening 20 new stores a year and aims to operate 140 outlets by the end of 2010.

The company, which recently entered into the cash for gold business – opening 62 gold bars since May last year – is set to continue its aggressive expansion. H&T currently runs 125 pawnbrokers, with the latest shop opening in Middlesborough two weeks ago.

Nichols claimed the company hopes to own 250 stores by 2015. A number of these will be opened by the pawnbroker, with the others being provided through acquisitions.

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H&T recently bought a small online pawn broking business, which it hopes to turn into a platform to launch an online pawn broking facility by the end of the year. But Nichols argued a high street presence is still important to bring in customers.

“Bricks and mortar can still act as a conduit,” he said. “The retail window is the showcase of what we do.”

The chief executive argued there is still a lot of room for growth in the industry, saying that even without the recession the company would have expanded. The difference in the past ten years, he stated, is that there was ‘people willing to invest in the industry to get it scaled up.’

“Growth would have occurred anyway, because there was under provision of it,” he said.

“There are about seven million people who haven’t got regular banking and regular credit. Half of our customers have a bank account, but they need immediate cash for quick, lumpy expenditure. If it happens in town A, town B has the same demand, as long as the demographics are approximately the same.”

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