Lender Provident confident it can beat Brexit blues as first half profits jump

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Credit lender ​Provident Financial ​reported a strong performance in the first half of 2016 and said it is confident it can trade soundly ​through any slowdown caused by the vote to leave the EU.

The Bradford-based FTSE 100 firm said adjusted pre-tax profits jumped 18 per cent to £149m. The growth was led by a 13 per cent increase in profits at its Vanquis credit card operation to £100m.

Vanquis reported year-on-year customer growth of seven per cent as more people sign up after being rejected by mainstream lenders.

Provident credited the growth to Vanquis’s careful approach to extending credit and high levels of customer contact.

The traditional credit business saw a 15 per cent rise in profits to £44m while vehicle lending division Moneybarn saw profits rise 45 per cent to £14m.

Provident’s CEO Peter Crook said: “We’re very pleased with the results. It was a very strong performance across all three divisions.”

He added the group has already seen a strong start to the second half.

Keith Loudon at stockbrokers Redmayne-Bentley, said: “In today’s climate, Provident Financial’s interim results could be described as fantastic, a real boost in these confusing times.

“The company fills a real gap in lending to the non-standard borrower.

“The experience of dealing with this section of the market over generations has led to effective lending control.”

Mr Crook said the firm is less likely to see a hit from Brexit than its rivals because its customers are not homeowners or heavily indebted.

“Our customers live in social or rented housing so there will be less volatility to their circumstances.”

Mr Crook pointed out: “We traded very well in the 2008 slowdown.

“We are still very tight on credit and turn down three out of four new applicants.”