Morses Club reports strong first half

Morses Club CEO Paul SmithMorses Club CEO Paul Smith
Morses Club CEO Paul Smith
Doorstep lender Morses Club has reported a strong performance over the past six months and said it has seen good demand for its club card.

The Birstall-based company, which is the UK’s second largest home collected credit lender after Provident Financial, said total credit issued rose 4.3 per cent to £85.7m in the six months to August 25.

Cash collections were up 11.9 per cent and the group said impairments are expected to be within the company’s guidance range.

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Total customer numbers stand at 229,000 and have remained largely stable. The gross loan book rose 6.1 per cent and the group said the proportion of loans attributable to the highest tier of customers remains steady. The firm said this reflects a focus on the quality of its loan book, due to a prudent credit policy and the success of the investment in building territory in the prior financial year.

Morses Club has taken on a significantly higher number of new agents as a result of "a unique market opportunity which arose at that time" - namely from rival Provident Financial, which let a number of staff go.

Morses Club said these new agents and managers have been successfully integrated into the business and territory builds are now operating at a more normalised level.

Demand for the Morses Club Card, the firm's cashless lending product, was strong, with in excess of 27,000 customers holding over £13.1m of loan balances on cards. The firm said Dot Dot Loans continues to develop and is providing it with useful customer insights and learnings.

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Paul Smith, CEO of Morses Club, said: “We are pleased with our first half performance as we have delivered high quality growth in our core HCC (home credit collection) loan book, whilst remaining focused on good customer outcomes. We have been working hard on implementing best-in-class operational controls and streamlining our lending process, whilst ensuring we always put our customers first.

“We are encouraged by the continued demand for the Morses Club Card, which is fundamental to our cashless strategy and offers our customers the flexibility they have asked for. We are confident in our outlook for the rest of the current year and remain positive on opportunities in both the HCC and wider non-standard finance markets.”

Analyst Gary Greenwood at Shore Capital said: "Investors will recall that Morses Club has benefited from the disruption at Provident Financial, which allowed it to recruit a significant number of agents from the latter in the middle of last year.

"However, instead of using this recruitment to drive rapid growth in customer numbers and credit issuance, the group has instead focused on improving the quality of its agent base and hence loan book through effective management of churn. New agents, which have been used to drive new territory builds, are now performing at normalised levels."

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Analyst Jeremy Grime at FinnCap added: "The company is delivering growth in line with expectations from a stable number of high quality customers, which implies a 25 per cent ROAE (return on average equity) and 13 per cent pre-tax profit growth this year. As the company continues to demonstrate delivery of quality growth from multiple strategies we are confident it will achieve a premium rating."

The company will announce its interim results for the 26-week period to August 25 on Thursday October 4.