A PAWNBROKER with shops across the North-East has abandoned attempts to sell itself.

Albemarle and Bond, which is the UK's second largest chain of pawnbrokers, has branches in Stockton, Middlesbrough, Hartlepool and Sunderland.

However, bosses admit its future looks uncertain after lenders gave it until March to find a rescue package.

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Falling gold prices and competition left the group struggling with losses and overstretched finances, resulting in it putting itself up for sale last month.

The company says it received a number of expressions of interest, including from Jon Moulton's Better Capital.

It was also reported that rival pawnbroker H and T, which has branches in Darlington, Durham City and Middlesbrough, was considering a bid.

However, it said none of the proposals received were deemed to represent a fair value for the company and had decided to terminate the formal sale process with immediate effect.

In a statement, it said it had been given a further reprieve by lenders until March 31 while the board continues to explore alternative options to maximise value for all stakeholders.

The Albemarle and Bond group also includes Herbert Brown, which has stores in Sunderland, Newcastle and Middlesbrough.