PAWNBROKER H&T Group yesterday blamed the collapse in the price of gold after its profits slumped by more than a third in the first half of the year.
The group, which has 193 high street stores and five more under the Gold Bar brand, said pre-tax profits fell by 39 per cent to £4.6m in the six months to 30 June compared with £7.5m last year.
The price of the precious metal has dropped by around 20 per cent this year, which has partly been linked to the US Federal Reserve’s hints that it could start tapering its massive quantitative easing programme.
H&T said the gold price means that profits in the second half are likely to be “materially” below that achieved in the first half of the year.
The news sent shares plummeting 22.6 per cent to 132p yesterday.
Chief executive John Nichols said: “Trading conditions have been difficult for the group in the first half. The competitive environment, reduced volumes of gold in circulation and regulatory pressures have all impacted financial performance.”