A&B shops left after rescue are closed down

Marion Dakers
ADMINISTRATORS for the high street pawnbroker Albemarle & Bond have closed most of the 59 stores not rescued by Promethean last month as they work to release money from the remains of the business.

According to documents filed recently at Companies House, Albemarle & Bond Holdings has debts to trade creditors in the region of £2m, and more than £55m in total liabilities including several inter-company loans.

Both secured and unsecured creditors for the firm are not expected to get all their money back, despite PwC’s efforts to realise cash from the firm’s assets such as unused leases on the now-closed shops and taxes that the company previously paid.

The administrator has identified £800,000 in net property assets and £160,000 available to non-secured creditors.

Around 120,000 items pledged by customers are being held at the shops now run by Promethean for them to redeem until their contracts run out – typically at least six months after the goods were pawned.

The administrators expect to wind up the last of the company within six to 12 months.

A&B and two subsidiaries filed for administration on 25 March after struggling to trade in the face of the falling price of gold.

Investors, who watched the firm’s share price slide from around 130p to 6.65p in the year leading up to the collapse, have been wiped out in the administration.

In April, 128 of the group’s stores were sold to Promethean Investments, saving more than 600 jobs.

Rival pawnbroker H&T had also bid for the shops, while Jon Moulton’s Better Capital dropped out of rescue talks in December 2013. A&B cancelled a £35m rights issue in July of that year, which the firm had hoped to use to avoid breaching debt covenants.