Hitachi capital launches consumer loans

Hitachi Capital Consumer Finance has launched a new direct to consumer loans proposition as part of its expansion plans, which look set to create 30 to 40 jobs at its Leeds base this financial year.

The Leeds-based finance provider said the new venture, Savvi Loans, allows Hitachi Capital to extend its high street lending capacity, derived from offering retail point of sale finance products for the likes of B&Q, CSL, Beaverbrooks and DFS.

It said this is “a natural progression” for the company to take; providing a direct to consumer finance product from its Leeds base, under the brand of Savvi Loans, and through an online portal. Gerald Grimes, managing director at Hitachi Capital Consumer Finance, said he expects Savvi Loans’ lending portfoilio to be around £100m this year, adding: “We fully intend to be a major force in this.”

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“The intention is for this business to remain based in Leeds and to continue to support the retailers and now our direct consumer proposition.” Around 30 to 40 new jobs are likely to be created at the Leeds base this financial year as a result of the overall expansion of the business, which includes the expected growth of Savvi Loans, he said.

Hitachi Capital Consumer Finance, which was founded 30 years ago and is part of Hitachi Capital UK plc, currently employs around 180 people at its base in Leeds.

“It has enjoyed considerable growth for the last four or five years. It has probably quadrupled its sales to around £1bn this year as we’ve broken more into the big high street names such as Wickes and B&Q.

“In the last 30 years, despite the counter-cyclical nature of it it’s continued to support retailers and of course, that’s very important now that retailers are struggling for sales. That market has been good for us and we’ve continued to promote that.

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“But the challenge really was how to use the infrastructure, the knowledge and experience we’ve gained from being a retail funder into other consumer markets.” Hitachi Capital Consumer Finance moved into offering the direct consumer loans proposition as a test about a year ago.

Mr Grimes said that the personal unsecured loan market is “underserviced” now because banks have “hugely withdrawn from that market and there’s a lack of credit available to consumers”. “We saw that as an opportunity to laterally diversify”, he added.

Hitachi Capital Consumer Finance said Savvi Loans will offer “competitive rates” to new and existing customers on loans of between £2,500 and £15,000. It said it will also be offering affinity loan partnerships with businesses in the retail and charity sectors.

Mr Grimes said: “Whether consumers want to ‘improve not move’ their homes, buy a new car or secure the holiday of a lifetime, spreading the cost, particularly on big ticket items, has never been more important to the consumer and the fortunes of the retail sector. Our focus with Savvi Loans is to provide credit worthy consumers with the opportunity to buy, backed by our secure Hitachi Capital credit proposition.”