A pawnbroker with 17 branches across the Midlands has collapsed into administration, putting dozens of jobs at risk.
Albemarle & Bond Jewellers & Pawnbrokers and Herbert Brown & Son, which employs 62 people in the region, have collapsed.
Administrators Mike Jervis, Peter Dickens, Toby Underwood and Stuart Maddison of PwC have been appointed after the firm struggled with a decline in gold prices.
The group is the second largest pawnbroker in the UK, with 183 branches and almost 900 staff, serving 140,000 customers.
It provides a wide range of services for customers looking to access cash, including pawnbroking, gold buying, cheque cashing and unsecured lending. It also provides foreign exchange services and acts as a jewellery retailer.
Its West Midland branches are in the city centre, Acocks Green, Bearwood, Chelmsley Wood, Coventry, Erdington, Kings Heath, Northfield, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton.
As a result of the decline in gold prices, 40 of the group’s pop-up branches were closed in 2013. Against this backdrop, efforts to turnaround the business have so far proved unsuccessful, which has led to the company filing for administration.
Joint administrator Mr Jervis said: “The group expanded its branch portfolio in the period to early 2013 and ended up with too many underperforming outlets. It then explored a rights issue to raise funds, before attempting a solvent sales process. Together, these efforts lasted more than six months. Despite this history many different parts of the group, and large swathes of its shops, remain profitable.
“Our priority is to keep all pledged items safe and available for redemption as normal. We plan to sell all or part of the business to protect as many jobs as possible and we have already paid, or will be paying all staff - including accrued bonuses - as normal in March. Also, all landlords have been paid. However, some redundancies may be necessary depending on the outcome of efforts to sell the business.
"Every branch will initially remain open as sale discussions progress. This also enables customers to continue to redeem their goods as normal as they pay off their loans.
“The group and PwC are doing all that they can to support employees through this difficult time and will work with government agencies in order to support anyone affected by potential redundancies.”