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Bradford's Provident Financial plan for expansion
Provident Financial has bought a plot land from the administrators of retailer T J Hughes, which closed the former Sunwin House department store in 2011, to create space for future expansion on the back of its booming credit card business.
The lender is currently adding 250 call centre staff to its Vanquis Bank operation and plans to take on another 250 as the business is forecast to grow ahead of expectations.
Chief executive Peter Crook said Provident had bought a parcel of land behind its Thornton Road head office and would prepare development plans.
An extension to the former T J Hughes store site would probably be demolished to make way for the extension. Mr Crook said he hoped Bradford Council would “look favourably” on the company’s planning application.
He said the extension work would not start before next year and in the meantime Provident had enough room to accommodate its extra staff.
News of the plans came as Provident revealed another strong performance in 2012 with pre-tax profit up 11.7 per cent to £181.1 million against £162.1m in 2011. Customer numbers rose by 8.7 per cent to 2.74 million, boosted by extra promotional activity for the Vanquis Bank lending and savings business.
The brand boosted UK pre-tax profits 61.3 per cent from £44.2m to £71.3m.
Customer and average receivables growth of 30.1 per cent and 37.4 per cent came after Provident stepped up its customer acquisition programme targeted at under-served non-standard credit card market. A pilot credit card operation in Poland progressed according to plan and would be reviewed after its completion in May.
Overall, Provident’s traditional consumer credit operation remained flat with the amount of credit issued tempered by pressure on household disposable incomes, mainly due to food and fuel inflation.
Peter Crook said: “Our performance is underpinned by the strength of our funding position and lending responsibly through very close attention to credit quality. This has allowed us to generate a stable stream of profits from the consumer credit division during a period when customers’ household incomes have been under pressure.
“At the same time, we have continued to invest significantly in growing the customer base and profits from addressing the UK’s under-served non-standard credit card market through Vanquis Bank.
“We have also revised our assessment of the medium-term potential size of the Vanquis Bank business in the UK to between 1.3 million and 1.5 million customers, representing an increase of some 30 per cent on previous guidance.
“Consumer credit collections performance has been sound through the first two months of the year and Vanquis Bank has continued to trade strongly, putting the group in a position to make further good progress in 2013.”
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