Provident Financial has a rich history dating back to 1880 when the company was founded in Bradford, West Yorkshire, by Joshua Kelley Waddilove.
Sir Joshua Waddilove worked as an insurance agent and in the course of his work saw first hand how some working class families struggled to pay for essential items such as furniture, clothes and shoes. He realised that something needed to change and devised a system to help families provide for themselves through the use of vouchers which could be exchanged in local shops for clothing, food and coal. The families then repaid the vouchers in small weekly instalments which they could afford.
Word soon spread and demand for the vouchers grew. Sir Joshua opened an office and recruited agents to help collect the repayments, creating the foundations on which, over a century later, the Provident home credit business of Provident Financial still operates.
The new company was called The Provident Clothing and Supply Co Limited and by the time Sir Joshua died in 1920, it had grown into a nationwide business with over 5,000 agents operating from a head office in Bradford. In the period since, the original home credit business has endured numerous social and economic challenges, notably the Wall Street Crash in 1929, the First and Second World Wars, the trade union strikes of the 1970s and the miners’ strikes of the 1980s. In 1962, the company was floated on the stock market. One of the biggest events in the company’s history, it marked the transition from a private family business to a public company under the new name of Provident Financial plc. The flotation was followed by a period of growth for the company as product ranges were expanded to reflect the ever-changing needs of the modern customer. In 1967 a brand new, larger head office was built on Sunbridge Road, Bradford, to accommodate the increasing number of employees. In 2010, the company moved to yet another brand new, purpose-built head office in the heart of Bradford city centre.
The Provident home credit business continues to operate in the UK and Ireland. In 2003, Vanquis Bank started trading, and has grown to become a successful non-standard credit card provider with 1.7 million customers in the UK and now takes retail deposits too.
In 2013, the Consumer Credit Division of Provident Financial launched an online instalment loans business, Satsuma Loans.
In 2014, PFG broadened its offering to the non-standard credit market by acquiring vehicle finance specialists, Moneybarn.
Vanquis Bank have successfully developed a loans platform and in November 2016 commenced testing instalment loans, initially to its credit card customer base, with encouraging early results.
Today, more than 137 years since it was founded in Bradford, Provident Financial is a FTSE 250 company listed on the London Stock Exchange with around 2.4 million customers.