Belfast Telegraph

Albemarle & Bond plans to roll out 25 new branches

By Julian Knight

Pawnbroker Albemarle & Bond plans to open 25 new stores in 2012 as it takes advantage of the difficult economic climate and banks tightening their lending criteria.

The store openings will focus on traditional pawnbroking services and on outlets that buy gold from the public. Up to 300 jobs could be created as result of the expansion programme.

Subdued high street rents are allowing firms like Albemarle to open new sites. Barry Stevenson, chief executive, said: "Since the recession, retail rates for high-street locations have finally returned to a sensible level, which allows us to be where our services are needed.

"However, compared to places like the US, the pawnbroking market here is still drastically underserved. We intend to address that through our expansion into new locations and by developing new channels to help people access our services more easily," .

And it seems that pawnbrokers as well as the new breed of payday loan firms are continuing to fill the void left by banks, cautious over whom they lend money to.

"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," Mr Stevenson added.

Belfast Telegraph