Pawnbroker Albemarle & Bond’s pre-tax profits dropped 33% to £8.1m in its first half to December 31. However, retail sales jumped 16.7% to £10.5m, with profits up 32%.

The company said the performance was in line with expectations as it reflected the anticipated reduction in gold buying.

Its pledge book was flat at £38.1m, which it said was due to reduced volumes of gold in circulation along with increased competition.

Albemarle & Bond chief executive Barry Stevenson said: “Profits were in line with expectations as we experienced tougher and more competitive markets in the first six months of the year and we expect these market conditions to continue in the second half. 

“The investment we made to more than double our store base is delivering positive returns and the majority of the new stores have contributed an operating profit in the first half with potential for future growth.”