Furniture and electricals chain Brighthouse has prospered in recent months – but has provided further evidence of consumers’ budgets being squeezed. The hire purchase chain saw like for like sales climb by 6.7% in the six months to the end of September.
Thanks to the opening of 15 branches, increasing the chain to 245 stores, total sales rose 16.3% to £127m. Profits before interest, tax and amortisation increased by 22% to £20.7m.
Brighthouse charges an APR of 29.9% on its products with customers paying weekly, usually over a three year period. ‘The great advantage, unlike borrowing money to buy the goods, is that if they get into difficulty they have not accumulated lots of debt,’ says Leo McKee, Brighthouse chief executive.
McKee says that the number of customers voluntarily returning products before they had finished paying for it had increased to about 25%. ‘Conditions on the high street have been very challenging, with much lighter footfall than in previous years. But this market is hugely underserved.’
Another 10 branches are planned by next March, with a long term plan to have 650 stores.