At the company’s Annual General Meeting held today, Mr John van Kuffeler, Chairman of Provident Financial plc, gave the following update on current trading:
“During the first quarter of 2004 overall group profits have developed as expected. The International division continues to grow strongly with customer numbers and credit issued up 29% at the end of the first quarter as compared to the same period of the prior year and it is on track to deliver good results for 2004.
Meanwhile our core UK home credit business, which is operating in an increasingly competitive market, continues to actively manage the trade-off between volume growth, credit quality and costs. In particular, we are curtailing customer recruitment and credit issued into under-performing segments. As a result of this and market conditions customer numbers and credit issued for the first quarter were both about 3% lower than in the same period of the previous year. At this early stage of the year, the achievement of our target of modest profit growth looks to be a considerable challenge and a small reduction in profit within UK home credit now looks likely. We will further update the market in our pre-close briefing in June.
Yes Car Credit, which provides larger loans for the purchase of used cars, is, as expected, growing strongly with the number of cars sold up by 38% for the year to date as compared to the same period of the prior year.
The market test of credit card products at Vanquis Bank is continuing as planned.
The motor insurance division is performing as expected and our emphasis continues to be on pricing for profit rather than volume.”
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