Pawnbroker Albemarle & Bond will open 25 new shops next year as it takes advantage of a decline in lending from banks in the challenging economic climate.

Albemarle aims to step into the lending void left as banks tightened their lending criteria, “failing to provide people with straightforward and inexpensive ways to borrow”.

Albermarle chief executive Barry Stevenson said: “With fewer people able to get credit through the banks, pawnbroking has an opportunity to play an increasingly important role in many people’s finances, whether they need some quick cash to get the car through its MOT, or run a business and need some cash to tide them over until a customer pays.”

Up to 300 jobs could be created as result of the store openings.

Albemarle is taking advantage of the more attractive rents in the downturn, said Stevenson.

“Since the recession, retail rates for high-street locations have finally returned to a sensible level, which allows us to be where our services are needed.

“However, compared to places like the US, the pawnbroking market here is still drastically underserved. We intend to address that through our expansion into new locations and by developing new channels to help people access our services more easily.”