From FT Dot Com
The pawnbroking industry is adapting to satisfy demand from more affluent clientele seeking loans secured against works of art, designer clothing, luxury cars and fine wines.
The National Pawnbroking Association, representing 90 per cent of UK pawn shops, estimates the total market grew by 15 per cent last year, with lending to the middle classes accounting for half that growth.
Ray Perry, NPA chief executive, said pawnbroking was no longer a service just for the poor, pointing out that chains had a presence on high streets in many upmarket towns.
“The typical reason given is the customer has fallen behind with the mortgage, or the school fees are due, or is facing a sudden expense like emergency dentistry,” said Michael Ayres, manager of Suttons & Robertsons, which last year opened a branch on Fleet Street in central London.
There are also online providers for those who want more discretion.
“The middle classes don’t like shops [as you could] find yourself standing behind a guy in a hoodie trying to pawn his Nokia for £17,” said Ian Williams, an insolvency lawyer.
Pawnbroker Online, a specialist web-based broker boasts it is “the only pawnbroker that accepts designer clothes and accessories too”.
In a sign of the discretion demanded by its more monied clientele, it promises to “respect your privacy and confidentiality and keep your personal business silent. You will receive no sales calls, no welcome packs and no branded goods from us. You drive the process”.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2012.