Pawnbroker Albemarle & Bond is rolling out a new fascia across its portfolio as it looks to revamp its image as its retail sales fall in the face of soaring gold prices.
The new fascia is more modern and less cluttered, according to chief executive Barry Stevenson.
The pawnbroker now features the word ‘Bond’ more prominently in its branding because its customers have difficulty saying ‘Albemarle and Bond’, he said. “We found people were calling our stores ‘the Bond shop’ anyway.”
Albemarle & Bond has launched the fascia on 15 newly opened stores over the past six months but Stevenson said it now planned to extend it to existing shops. It aims to start the full roll-out in July and expects all 148 stores to operate under the new fascia by next year.
It will also revamp the interiors of the existing stores to mimic the brighter, cleaner new stores, which Stevenson said were performing above internal targets.
The pawnbroker has aggressive expansion plans, and aims to open 25 stores annually over the next five years, almost doubling its store count. Stevenson said Albemarle & Bond was able to secure attractive rental deals as it many towns have high vacancy rates.
Retail, which represents 15% of profits, was “easily its most disappointing division” as its like-for-like sales plunged 20% in the half year to December 31, he said.
Soaring gold prices have hindered jewellery sales, although the pawnbroker has benefited from attractive scrappage rates. Sales of new jewellery were up 9% like for like and now account for 30% of its overall retail sales, growing to 50% of sales in its new stores.
Pre-tax profit for the group - which includes retail, pawnbroking, gold buying and other financial services - dipped 1% to £10.7m over the six-month period as costs rose 24% to fund its store expansion. Group turnover was £48.8m, compared with £39.4m in the comparable period in 2010.