H&T Group adjusted pre-tax profit soared 13.9% to £23.5m in 2011 as the pawnbroker hits the expansion trail.

Pre-tax profit has been adjusted to remove a one off contribution from delayed auctions in 2010.

Like-for-like jewellery sales plunged 9.4% as soaring gold prices impacted affordability for customers. However, gross margins improved by 4% to 49% recovering much of the sales shortfall.

The pawnbroking group’s year end pledge book sat at £46.6m, up 15.3% last year. The group said it had experienced record levels of lending over its financial year ending December 31, 2011.

H&T Group chief executive John Nichols said: At a time when the availability of standard forms of credit are diminishing, the group continues to expand its presence, offering immediate access to cash and credit from convenient high street locations.

The group added 25 stores throughout the year taking its total to 160. It plans to add a similar level of stores throughout 2012.

Chairman of the group Peter McNamara said: “We believe that the UK pawnbroking market remains underserved and that further opportunities exist to fill the lending gap left by the high street banks.”