Profits down at pawnbroker

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A chain of high street outlets set up by the UK’s biggest pawnbroker to take advantage of a surge in the price of gold could shut down in the next 12 months after the market slumped.

Gold Bar, which is owned by H&T, has five sites compared to 55 last year and has been hit by a crash in the price of the precious metal as well as competition from payday lenders.

H&T, which has 193 outlets, including in Kingston Road and Cosham High Street in Portsmouth, and West Street in Fareham, said profits slumped by more than a third and were likely to drop further, prompting it to slash its interim shareholder dividend. Its pre-tax earnings in the first half of the year were down 39 per cent to £14.8m compared to 2012.

Profits at H&T have surged over the last few years after it took advantage of surging gold prices by opening dozens of Gold Bar sites.