S&U’s Resilient Performance and Growth Strategy in the Face of Economic and Regulatory Headwinds

S&U PLC chairman Anthony Coombs recently discussed the company’s full-year performance and outlook in an interview with Proactive’s Stephen Gunnion. Despite facing significant headwinds, especially in the latter half of the period, Coombs noted that S&U demonstrated robust trading, underpinned by the strong demand for its motor finance and property bridging products.

Aspen, its property bridging division, achieved a significant milestone, hitting the half-billion lending mark. However, profit growth at motor finance division Advantage was held back by higher interest rates and increased regulatory activity from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) concerning forbearance, affordability, and vulnerable customers. Coombs highlighted the company’s adaptability and ongoing cooperation with the FCA to maintain best-in-class procedures.

Despite the economic challenges and regulatory pressures, customer numbers at Advantage reached record levels. Coombs also addressed the impact of the current economic situation, including recession fears and cost of living pressures, on the company’s lending practices. He expressed neutrality towards the potential change in government, emphasizing the company’s resilience and long-term customer service focus.

On the property market, Coombs noted the resilience of house prices and a long-term supply shortage, which he believes presents a substantial opportunity for Aspen. He highlighted the division’s focus on lending to individuals refurbishing or building properties, a sector underserved by traditional banks.

S&U declared a final dividend of 50 pence per share, and Coombs expressed confidence in the company’s ability to resume sustainable profit growth, maintaining a balance between capital appreciation and dividend yield for shareholders.

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