How the pandemic has accelerated credit lender Morses Club's digital strategy

Credit lender Morses Club said it performed "resiliently and profitably during a challenging year" in the 52 week period to February 27, 2021.

Paul Smith, CEO of Morses Club.

The Batley-based said it responded to the "profound impact" that the pandemic and ensuing market conditions have had on the group by accelerating its existing digital strategy and taking advantage of the opportunity to expedite the tech-enabled transformation of the business.

It moved to a remote Home Collect Credit (HCC) lending model, which enabled it to re-commence lending to existing customers just three weeks after lockdown was announced in March 2020.

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Morses said 64 per cent of lending in its HCC division is now cashless and transacted through its portal, with customers signed up to the portal rising by around 70 per cent during the period.

The collection to terms performance within HCC continued to improve, with quarter three of its financial year at 95 per cent of historical expectations and quarter four rising to 100 per cent of historical expectations.

Total credit issued within HCC reduced by 37 per cent to £109.7m from £174.2m the previous year reflecting reduced demand due to various national and regional lockdowns during the year, along with the group's stricter lending criteria to protect the quality of its loan book.

The HCC gross loan book reduced by 28.6 per cent to £102.1m from £142.9m the previous year and total customer numbers within HCC were 152,000 down from 221,000 the previous year.

As with HCC, total credit issued and customer numbers within its Digital division were impacted by reduced demand due to lockdown measures along with the group's tightening of lending criteria to maintain high quality lending.

Total credit issued increased by 21.4 per cent to £19.3m from £15.9m the previous year and customer numbers were 29,000 down from 33,000.

Paul Smith, CEO of Morses Club, said: "First and foremost, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all of our teams and agents, who have worked tirelessly to ensure that our customers have continued to receive excellent customer service. Without their teamwork and support, we would not have ended the year in as strong a position as we have.

"Last year was a challenging yet transformational year for Morses Club, during which we demonstrated the robustness of our business model.

"The pandemic has resulted in the acceleration of our digital strategy, vindicating our previous investment, and as a result, we have made a number of permanent changes to our offering to meet changing customer behaviour.

"Our strong new operating platforms, increasing suite of services and first-class customer service ensure the group is well-placed to capitalise on opportunities going forward.

"We are encouraged by evidence of pent-up demand for our growing number of products as lockdown eases and we look forward to making further progress in facilitating financial inclusion across the UK as the economy gradually rebounds during 2021."

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James Mitchinson