A HIGH street pawnbroker’s increasing focus on luxury jewellery and foreign currency will help shed its traditional image and push the business further into customer’s consciousness, its boss has told The Northern Echo.

Ramsdens Holdings has seen pre-tax profit and revenue increase after shoppers were charmed by its broader offering.

The firm, which runs its head office from Coulby Newham, near Middlesbrough, complements traditional loan services with sales of new and second-hand jewellery, including Rolex watches and bracelets worth thousands of pounds, and a foreign exchange division.

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According to latest results for the six months to September 30, released today (Monday, November 27), the three strands each provided a financial boost, with pre-tax profit 63 per cent better off than a year ago at £5.2m.

Group revenue was 18 per cent higher at £21.8m.

Retail revenue across the business’ jewellery venture was up 40 per cent to £3.5m, with Mr Kenyon hailing Ramsdens’ investment in stock, staff and displays.

He also revealed the firm will continue recycling diamonds from unwanted items for use on more modern, desirable products to strengthen its market position.

“The jewellery proposition is getting better and we have come a long way,” Mr Kenyon told the Echo.

“We are still learning and getting better at things, and we can extract diamonds (from unwanted products), get them re-set into fashionable goods and offer them at keen prices.

“We are constantly striving to improve the offer in stores and online, and the board believes there is significant growth potential by cross-selling to customers of other services.”

Mr Kenyon said he was equally pleased with Ramsdens’ currency arm, which saw customer numbers rise 15 per cent to 511,000 and gross exchanges increase 22 per cent to £324m, while he also flagged up its pawnbroking loan book, which grew 18 per cent in the period to £6m.

He added: “On the foreign currency side, a lot of new customers are recommended by existing ones, and we are dedicated to offering the best price.

“Our results are the culmination of years of investment and momentum we have built over the last couple of years.”

Earlier this year, Ramsdens floated on the AIM financial market, which, at the time, Mr Kenyon said would provide a market capitalisation of £26.5m and pave the way for the next phase of growth.

Referring to that endeavour, Mr Kenyon said nothing has changed, vowing the company will continue offering the same service to customers as it always has.

He said: “It is still the same business that I have the pleasure to lead and long may that continue.”

The firm, which has its name emblazoned on the shirts of Middlesbrough FC, runs a 120-plus UK store estate, with outlets based in Darlington, Bishop Auckland, Middlesbrough, Stockton and Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, and Mr Kenyon confirmed the number will rise.

He added: “The group remains on track with its near and medium-term expansion strategy.

“We have signed leases on two new greenfield stores, heads of terms have been agreed on a further five stores, and an acquisition of a single store jewellers has been agreed for completion in January.”