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Pawnbroker H&T reaps rewards from online investment

H&T has been investing in its online proposition of late, and it seems to be money well spent
The firm was “particularly pleased” with the performance of its travel money division

Pawnbroker H&T GROUP PLC (LON:HAT) shares jumped higher on Wednesday as it enjoyed a solid 2018, with all of its core businesses delivering growth last year.

The AIM-listed company has been investing in its digital presence of late as more customers shift to online, and it benefitted from this move in 2018.

READ: H&T sees digital investment as key to growth

One of the big winners was the foreign exchange business, which saw income jump 22% last year, driven by the popularity of the newly-introduced click-and-collect service.

Elsewhere, H&T’s pledge book – money loaned out to people who have put up personal possessions as collateral – rose 8% last year. That was down to a hike in the number of customers as well as an increase in the number of “quality watches” being pawned.

The jewellery retail business continued its recent momentum, with sales up 7% year-over-year, while the personal loans book surged by a third, reflecting the launch of new longer-term, lower interest rate loans.

Boss happy with progress

“We continued to make good progress in delivering our strategy in the past year, particularly in developing our digital capability to complement our store estate,” said chief executive John Nichols.

“We have also seen growth in our secured pawnbroking lending, primarily driven by increased customer numbers. Our personal loan product offering has also been refined with a focus towards in-store lending, with more customers qualifying for our lower cost loans.”

He added: “The growth in retail sales has come through an expanded range of new jewellery and the development of both click-and-collect and online sales. We are particularly pleased with the growth of our foreign exchange proposition.”

The full set of 2018 results will be published on 12 March.

In early afternoon trading, H&T shares were 6.7%higher at 287p.

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