Pawnbroker H&T has given the green light to store expansion after its half-year profits jumped.

The 150-store business has opened 15 shops in its year to date and their “excellent” performance has encouraged it to open more.

H&T commercial director Steve Fenerty said the intention is to open another 10 stores by the end of the year and 25 next year.

He said: “It’s a model that works. There is still capacity in the UK. We could have at least 250 stores.”

The pawnbroker plans to expanding its ‘H&T lite’ format, smaller at between 250 sq ft and 300 sq ft, shopping centre store focused solely on retail and gold buying. Fenerty said the shop was “easier to understand” for customers.

H&T will increase the number of ‘lite’ stores from two to 10 before “finding out if it makes sense”.

Despite retail like-for-likes slipping by 4% over the six months to June 30, the pawnbroker increased retail gross profit by 7%. Fenerty said profit gains were made by raising prices for certain products such as diamond set pieces.

H&T’s group pre-tax profit jumped 7.3% to £10.3m, helped by high gold prices.

Analyst Andy Wade at house broker Numis raised his full-year profit forecast from £16.8m to £18.8m.

He said: “The progress made by H&T over the past five years has been dramatic – store numbers have increased from 77 to 146, the pledge book from £25m to £41m and, despite a good run, we see more to go for.”