Pawnbroker'sprofit surges on gold price

City A.M. Reporter
PAWNBROKER Albemarle &amp; Bond (A&amp;B) yesterday announced a 50 per cent rise in its full-year pre-tax profit helped by a strong gold price, and said trading remained strong.<br /><br />The company also said in a separate statement that its founder, Philip Murphy, will retire from his role as non-executive director at the group&rsquo;s next annual meeting.<br /><br />Britain&rsquo;s largest pawnbroker posted a pre-tax profit of &pound;14.62m, ahead of analyst forecasts. Earnings per share rose 38 per cent to 19.57p.<br /><br />The company hiked its final dividend by 44 per cent, giving it a total dividend for the year of 8.75p, it said in a statement that covered the 12 months to 30 June 2009.<br /><br />Albemarle, which has 115 branches, said income from pawnbroking grew by 30 per cent to &pound;25.8m while retail sales of new and second-hand jewellery increased by three per cent to &pound;19.7m.<br /><br />&ldquo;Trading has continued positively into the new financial year,&rdquo; A&amp;B said in a statement. &ldquo;The increase in the price of gold, successful introduction of gold purchasing, positive retail sales and actions taken to support the financial services division all contributed to the performance for the year.&rdquo;<br /><br />Net income from financial services fell to &pound;6.7m, from &pound;7.8m in 2008, it said.<br /><br />Chairman Greville Nicholls said: &ldquo;It is extremely satisfying to announce a 42 per cent increase in profits before tax... which reflects the benefits of our recent investment in acquiring and integrating Herbert Brown, combined with our ability to take advantage of favourable market conditions through the continued development of our 115 well located, community based stores. Albemarle&rsquo;s stock closed 2.4 per cent down at 225p on London&rsquo;s junior Aim index.