S & U Plc - AGM Statement and Trading Update

Advantage Finance, S&U's motor finance business, continues to trade well with profits up on last year, whilst customer numbers now exceed 60,000 for the first time. Advantage's continuing policy of focussing on debt quality is proving its worth in light of current economic uncertainty, with current collections up 6% compared to net receivables, at £263m, up 3% against last year. Similarly, impairment has shown recent improvement and rolling 12-month risk adjusted yield is now slightly improved at just over 25% (31 January 2019:  24.6%).

These healthy indicators are also reflected in the record number of applications for finance that Advantage is currently receiving, averaging over 108,000 per month.  This has meant that, even within the tightened under-writing regime, recent transaction volumes and quality as recorded in tiered tranches are showing improvement.

Aspen Finance, S&U's new property bridging lender, continues to make impressive progress.  Its loan book now stands at £22m against £18mat year end, as its product range, introducer network and reputation continue to grow.  This is evidenced in both the number of its recent illustrations and, most importantly, in its active deal pipeline, which is at a record level and has doubled over the period.

The Group's current progress has been reflected since year-end in an increase in Group borrowing from £108m to nearly £114m.  This is well within our budgeted requirements and within our recently increased £160m medium term facilities, providing ample headroom for our anticipated growth.

Commenting on S&U's trading and outlook, Anthony Coombs, S&U Chairman, said:

"Recent trends in our business are encouraging, particularly in transaction growth, debt and new customer quality. Together with our tried and tested traditional emphasis on continuous process refinements and improvements for our customers, these give us confidence of further steady and sustainable growth and a successful year ahead."