Albemarle & Bond bought by Promethean Investments

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Pawnbroker Albemarle & Bond has been acquired by a group of international investors led by private equity firm Promethean Investments, saving 628 jobs across 128 branches.

A joint statement from Promethean Investments LLP and the joint administrators of Albemarle & Bond at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) said new, highly-experienced CEO Stephen Plowman is to be appointed with a mandate to reconfigure Albemarle & Bond and refocus it back to its core business lines of pawnbroking and jewellery retailing and return it to profitability.

Plowman has spent more than 30 years in financial services, working across banking insurance and latterly consumer finance, spending the past eight years in restructuring roles.

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As part of the deal, a total 128 of 187 Albemarle & Bond branches have been acquired, translating as 628 jobs saved. At the last count, the company had 809 employees in total. The 59 branches or pop-up outlets that are not part of the deal have been retained by the administrators and may face closure, meaning the possible termination of 181 jobs.

According to the joint statement, the plan is for Promethean to maintain the majority of stores, in addition to preserving hundreds of jobs. The new management team, Promethean Investments LLP, its co-investors and PwC will work together to ensure that the transition out of administration is achieved as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

Mike Jervis, lead administrator at PwC, said: "The deal announced today was the best offer received, preserving the most jobs and keeping the most stores open. All 120,000 pledged items remain safe and available for the customers to redeem.

"This deal achieves the most positive outcome for customers, staff and landlords- which has always been a key driver for A&B’s stakeholders.”

Albemarle & Bond reached a market capitalisation of more than £220 million at its peak in 2011, but suffered in the years since due to over expansion. It suspended shares trading on March 24 2014, the day before it appointed PwC as administrator.

Albemarle roused interest from a number of potential investors ahead of Promethean’s takeover, with rival firm H&T Group releasing a statement last week to confirm that it was interested in purchasing some of Albemarle’s assets.
 

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