26 September 2012 10:35
A slowdown in the high street "gold rush" has left pawnbroker Albemarle & Bond facing its first drop in annual profits in two decades. The company, which has 184 stores and 50 gold buying pop-up stores, said there was a "sudden slowdown" in demand since a peak in March and that gold buying levels were likely to continue to fall back, affecting group profits in the current financial year to June.Chief executive Barry Stevenson said: "The expected downturn in the gold buying market happened very quickly and has set a new level to which we have quickly adapted."We expect gold buying to continue to be a significant profit contributor to the group, albeit at much reduced levels to that achieved at the peak."Albemarle will slow its store opening programme in response to the drop in gold buying, having taken advantage of the so-called "gold rush" to double shop numbers over the past three years. The group will now look to open five stores in the current year.