Pawnbroker H&T cashes in on surge in gold prices

PAWNBROKER H&amp;T cheered the market yesterday after revealing its rapid roll out of gold buying stores boosted trading &ldquo;well ahead of expectations&rdquo;.<br /><br />Investors responded favourably &ndash; sending its shares up five per cent to close at 300p. <br /><br />Since April the group has aggressively developed its gold-buying business, called Gold Bar stores, and has opened 56 stand-alone shops to buy unwanted gold from customers. It is set to grow this to 70 Gold Bars by the end of the year. Gold prices have jumped from $900 to a high of $1,064 an ounce since June. <br /><br />Chief executive John Nicholls yesterday said that low-income households remain its core customer base, but volumes have soared in the downturn as consumers scramble to get their hands on cash.<br /><br />But the group uttered a note of caution and said it was &ldquo;conscious that current volumes may not be sustainable&rdquo;. <br /><br />Since the beginning of the crunch a number of &ldquo;cash for gold&rdquo; players have entered the market &ndash; but Nicholls said the group&rsquo;s success was based on its reputation. <br /><br />He told City A.M.: &ldquo;The world and his wife are trying to get on the gold bandwagon. But would you send your gold in the post when we don&rsquo;t even have a good postal service?&rdquo;