It is part of a general trend that people are beginning to accept pawnbroking
"However, compared to places like the USA, the pawnbroking
market here is still drastically under-served.
The higher price of the precious metal also helped to push up the average price of its loans through its core pawnbroking
business, with its pledge book up 10% to pounds 41.2m at the end of the period.
The boom in the gold trade, coupled with a rise in the number of their pawnbroking
outlets, drove pre-tax profits for H&T to pounds 14.5million, up from pounds 8.5million in the same period last year.
But Nichols denied that pawnbroking
is a pricey way to borrow money and pointed out that, unlike some others ways of raising cash, including payday loans, you won't be chased for any of your debts - you simply forfeit your goods.
Albemarle said the business had continued to perform well in the second half of their financial year so far, with the pledge book in their core pawnbroking
arm - accounting for 60 per cent of profits.
Chief executive John Nichols said: "H&T is the leading business in the fragmented UK pawnbroking
market with a pledge book of almost pounds 25 million at the end of 2005.
chain Ramsdens Financial has suffered a dramatic PS8.4m fall in profitability due to tumbling gold prices.
Reading-based group Albemarle, which includes Herbert Brown jewellery and pawnbroking
stores, recently admitted it had resorted to melting down gold jewellery stocks to raise cash.
Underlying profits at its pawnbroking
business rose by 15% to pounds 31.5m in the period, while the group saw a doubling in demand for one of its short-term loan products - even though average annual interest rates are 281.5%.
Surging gold - which has risen above $1120 an ounce and boosted scrap prices - increased pawnbroking
income and raised profits in the precious metal division.
The company, which was founded in Bristol in 1986, gains around half of its profits from its pawnbroking
business and the rest from activities such as cashing cheques and selling second-hand jewellery.