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C4 documentary: The Pawn Shop

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The Pawn Shop from Boomerang is a 1 x 60 documentary uncovering the hidden world of high-end pawnbroking, with exclusive access to the experts and extraordinary clients involved in this growing industry. Focusing on Surrey-based Prestige Pawnbrokers, the undisputed kings at pawning expensive and exclusive objects in cash-strapped Britain, we’ll go behind-the-scenes and discover that when it comes to upmarket pawn everyone has a story to tell.


From a £1million helicopter, a £150k Ferrari or a Hermes handbag worth £25k, they are at the forefront when it comes to pawning luxurious and costly objects in cash-strapped Britain and part of a growing number of high-end pawnbrokers. Run by slick, former property developer, James Constantinou with the aid of a quirky team of asset experts including salt-of-the-earth jewellery expert Lawrence, feisty PA Jo and art expert Ben among others, Prestige has become the go-to place for people wanting fast cash in well-heeled Surrey. And it’s an empire on the move: James is taking big risks investing his hard earned cash in a brand new store in Richmond and has bigger plans in mind too. But will expanding make or break the business?

Read the press release on the channel 4 website, the pawn shop

The rise of wine pawning

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Releasing cash by selling top quality wine has never been easier, with a global marketplace readily accessible online.


Prestige Pawnbrokers features in the Daily Telegraph read the full article on pawning wine here

Return of the pawnbroker

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After half a century as a pawnbroker, Josh Fish has heard it all: “One day a lady put her head around door and said, ‘I promised to take the kids to the cinema, please loan us the money’. I refused and she called me all the names under the sun,” he says.
“The next morning she turned up again and said, ‘Thanks Josh, the horse lost’. We know our customers in a way banks just don’t.”
Josh is the fifth generation Fish to run the family business, which was founded in 1830.
When he started work, back in the 1950s, the pawnbroking industry was quietly dying. Now he is seeing it grow at its fastest rate in more than a century.
Fish Brothers has opened three new stores this year and is in the middle of refurbishing its five older shops.
“Since the Second World War, if you wanted money, you had to go to the bank,” he says. “That’s not so easy to do anymore. The choices available to people have changed.

Lines of credit

Pawnbroking is the growth story of the credit crunch. There are no credit checks, little paperwork and the cash is available straight away.
High street pawnbrokers typically charge between 5-7% interest a month. If the loan is not paid back on time, the pawned item will be sold or melted down to help cover the debt.
The size of the industry has risen from £296m in 2007 to £851m today, according to the analysts Apex Insight.
Four new stores have opened every week in 2012 on high streets up and down the country.
Pawnbrokers have had strong economic winds blowing in their favour – falling incomes, vacant shop space and the decision by many banks to back away from the riskier end of the personal lending business.
“Banks wouldn’t even look at me. They would definitely say no,” says Maria Jones. The young mother-of-three is waiting to redeem her necklace at Gemini Jewellers, a small family-owned pawnbrokers in Kent.
“You have to make sure you have a well-paid job to get credit these days. That’s why I come in here and get money.”
The number of credit cards in circulation fell from 73 million in 2007 to 61 million at the end of 2011 as banks withdrew special 0% offers and tightened up lending criteria.

Long history

Like many of the customers in the store, Maria says she pawns her jewellery to pay for everyday essentials – gas, electricity and food.
“I don’t have another option, apart from the family,” she says. “If my mum has got the money, she will lend it to me. She doesn’t like me coming here, but I don’t want to depend on her for things.”
You have to go back a long way to find the last time pawnbrokers played a major role in British life. At the end of the 19th Century there were more than 700 in London alone.
The local pawnbroker’s shop, or “uncle” in Victorian slang, would lend against almost anything from gold rings to clothing, blankets and boots.
“Pawnbrokers gave some freedom to working people in the late Victorian period,” says Alex Werner, Head of History Collections at the Museum of London. “When they didn’t need their best clothes, pawning allowed them to buy food for the family until the weekend. Then they would get paid and could have their jacket back. It was like a support network.”
But the industry almost died out after World War I as incomes increased, banks offered new forms of credit and the welfare state was created.
By the 1980s there were fewer than 50 pawnbrokers left in the UK.

Taking on the banks

The industry’s resurgence started in the late 1980s as regulations were relaxed and larger pawnbroking chains started to emerge.
Many now offer other forms of financial services from payday loans to gold buying and money exchange.
Modern stores with their well-lit counters and private valuation rooms are designed to look less like a Victorian money lender and more like a high street bank.
Pawnbrokers say the new look is started to attract a new type of customer.

Twenty per cent of Fish Brother’s business now comes from the Asian and East African communities that have settled around the East End of London.
The size of the average loan has risen six times over since the start of the financial crisis, partly because the company has started to target a more affluent customer.
“The middle classes are now using us in a way that has never happened before,” says Josh Fish. “Ten years ago, pawnbroking was hidden away down the side of the shop. Now it is right there on the high street.”

Asset finance

At the very top end of the market is a new type of pawnbroker.
The “asset finance” company takes the same business model and applies it to rare, high value items.
“We’ve loaned against everything from boats, planes and helicopters to a Picasso and a Lowry,” says James Constantinou, the founder of Prestige Pawnbroking based in the affluent market town of Weybridge in Surrey.
He set up the business three years ago in the middle of the financial crisis, lending not just to individuals but to companies struggling in the downturn. Clients must pay between 2-7% interest a month, depending on the nature of the loan.
Businessman Mark Landsberg, handed over the keys to his Porsche 911 to pay a looming tax bill due in the New Year.
“You just can’t get a bank loan for a couple of months,” he says, “We just don’t have that relationship with them anymore.”
“Nowadays it feels like you can’t get money out of a bank for a business unless it’s made of solid gold.”

Read the article here

Watch Jim Reed’s full film on the changing face of pawnbroking on Newsnight on 20th December 2012 at 10.30pm on BBC Two, then afterwards on the BBC iPlayer and Newsnight website.

The rise of posh pawnbrokers

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When computer entrepreneur Mark Landsberg realised he needed a cash injection to see him through next month’s festivities he knew exactly what to do.

Frustrated that banks are no longer lending he instead took his Porsche 911 Turbo to one of the new breed of posh pawnbrokers in return for a loan of £20,000 against its value.

“In exchange for my car keys the pawnbroker transferred the cash to my bank account the same day,” explains Mark, 53, who is single and lives near Newmarket in Suffolk.

“It’s now in storage until I repay the loan which suits me fine as I’ve got another car to drive in the meantime.”

Like many business owners Mark gets paid quarterly by most clients and with a tax bill looming in January the loan will cover his living costs for the next two months.

“It will also enable me to have a frivolous Christmas knowing I don’t have to tap into the money set aside for tax,” he continues.

“I’ll treat my sister and niece to luxury gifts and throw a festive lunch for about 14 friends on which I’ll blow about £3,000, much of it on vintage champagne. Even the turkey costs about £130 as I go for the best of everything. Pawning my car is simply a short-term solution to cash flow.”

And Mark is not alone. The National Pawnbrokers Association (NPA) reported a 15 per cent growth in business last year, half of which was down to more middle-class individuals and small businesses using their services.

In late 19th and ‘It will me to early 20th-century Britain there were nearly as many pawnbrokers as pubs. People would pawn anything from bed linen and cutlery to their Sunday best suit to put a meal on the table.

Today the pawnbroker is emerging as the high-street lender of choice for the asset-rich middle classes caught between recession and banks that won’t lend. without tax The NPA now has more than 1,800 pawnbroker shops and online members in the UK, compared with just 530 in pre-recession 2007.

The industry is regulated alongside banks and other financial institutions by the Consumer Credit Act 1974.

Former property developer James Constantinou is chief executive of upmarket Prestige Pawnbrokers in affluent Weybridge, Surrey (

Since launching the business in 2009 he has loaned against everything from property and fine wine to art, diamonds, rare books, cars, couture clothing and antiques.

“We don’t need to know why clients want a loan but their reasons include school fees, dental work, funeral arrangements, utility bills, car repairs and even divorce lawyers,” he reveals.

“Recently we’ve loaned £30,000 against a Bentley, £150,000 against part of a large collection of vintage wine, £4,000 for a grandfather clock and even £3,000 against a vintage Chanel handbag.”

Mark’s Porsche is also on Constantinou’s list and isn’t his first foray into pawning. After reading about it on the BBC’s website, a year ago Mark borrowed £50,000 against a Lamborghini – which he has since sold – so he could invest in a business opportunity.

“I’d have missed out on a lucrative deal if I’d had to rely on the banks,” he adds. “Pawning my car meant I could act quickly.

“Five weeks later, by which time some of my clients had paid their bills, I redeemed the £50,000 loan and drove my car home. Like lots of business people I always have money coming in but not on a monthly basis.

“Sometimes I just need something to tide me over for a few weeks but the banks don’t want to know any more.”

It will enable me to have a frivolous Christmas without using tax money

A pawnbroker will typically loan up to 50 per cent of the value of an item for six or seven months.

At any time during that period the customer can repay the loan plus interest – which tends to be between two and seven per cent depending on the value of the item, compared with an average 19.5 per cent on a bank overdraft and 17.3 per cent on a credit card.

If they fail to repay a loan they won’t get into debt as they would with a bank, the pawnbroker will simply sell the item through their shop or an auction house. Once the loan and interest have been recouped, many even pass any profit left over to the customer.

enable have a On average 15 per cent of people fail to repay their loan forfeiting their item, treasured or otherwise. Ray Perry, CEO of the NPA, says that in theory you can pawn anything because what you’re doing is providing security against a loan.

“So long as the pawnbroker can source the expertise to value an item, often a specialist auctioneer using money’ in the case of art or fine wine, to ensure it has a resale value then it’s perfectly viable,” he explains….

Read the full article posh pawnbrokers article on the Daily Express website.

The rise of designer pawn

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In these asset-rich, cash-strapped times, more and more of us are banking on a new breed of high-end moneylenders. Kathryn Knight investigates

When Tiffany Jackson’s husband James was made redundant from his job in the City last year the couple quickly felt the pinch. They put their six-bedroom home in Weybridge, Surrey, on the market, but while they waited for it to sell, money was tight. ‘A couple of credit-card bills came in,’ recalls Tiffany. ‘Normally it wouldn’t be a problem with my husband’s salary, but we were struggling.’

Traditionally, the solution might have been a bank loan, or a begging phone call to friends. Instead, Tiffany, 32, a housewife who is used to dressing in designer labels, took a different tack. ‘A friend suggested I pawn a couple of my more expensive items. Initially I was taken aback because I’d never come across the idea before – you associate the word with the seedier end of the high street. But it made sense. I may not have much going into my bank account, but I had a wardrobe full of expensive stuff. The shop she mentioned was just down the road, so I decided I had nothing to lose by going in.’
The following day, Tiffany found herself in the offices of a pawnbroker handing over an £18,000 crocodile-skin Chanel handbag – a present from her husband – and her £6,000 Rolex watch. In return, she got a cheque for £4,000 – enough to settle the credit-card bills that were worrying her. She has seven months to repay the money at a monthly interest rate of around five per cent, meaning she will need to find more than £5,400 to get her items back. However, she is confident that the imminent sale of her house will free up her cash. ‘But if it doesn’t, although I loved my watch and bag, there are worse things to lose,’ she says. ‘As long as you’re not emotionally attached to whatever you’re handing over it’s a stress-free way to get cash.’

Women such as Tiffany are not the sort of clientele that you traditionally associate with pawnbrokers. Nevertheless, in these asset-rich, cash-poor times they are increasingly emerging as their lender of choice. Last year, the National Pawnbrokers Association – whose membership has grown from 530 to 1,800 in the past five years – reported a 15 per cent rise in business, in part fuelled by this new breed of high-end customer. Then there’s the internet, where online brokers offer loans against everything from jewellery to fine wine. At loans of up to £1 million are available, while at applicants can be offered money after a transaction lasting as little as a minute.

Meanwhile, over at Prestige Pawnbrokers in Weybridge (a commuter belt with some of the UK’s most expensive houses) designer handbags and dresses – Hermès, Chanel, Dior – jostle for space with expensive jewellery in the locked units behind the discreet shop front that, with its plain counter and sofas, looks more like a bank. The most interesting stuff isn’t on the premises, but in underground vaults containing rare books and paintings, and secure garages that host sleek rows of prestige cars. All of them have been pawned by their owners in exchange for ready cash.

Moreover, it is women who are helping to fuel James’s booming business. ‘When we opened women rarely came in unaccompanied by a man, but we’ve seen a huge shift in that sector. Now they form around 65 per cent of our client base. Before, these women could have walked into the bank and said, “My house is worth five million, I just want a few grand on my bank card”, and that would have been fine, but now that’s not possible unless you’re in full-time employment, which doesn’t apply for many of these women. So they come here.’ What are they spending the money on? Anything, it seems – school fees, dentistry work, credit-card bills, even to start their own business.


‘If you’re not attached to what you hand over, it’s stress-free cash’

The rise in popularity of pawnbrokers doesn’t come as a surprise to those in the know either. Jasmine Birtles, personal finance expert from, agrees that the industry has now attracted a new kind of client – the ‘secretly poor’. ‘These are the people who appear to be doing well – the children in private school, the expensive cars on the drive – but behind the scenes they have cash-flow problems, which means they are behind on the mortgage and can’t get any money from the bank. For them, the sort of discreet service offered by a pawnbroker can be an attractive proposition.’


A pawnbroker typically lends up to 50 per cent of the value of the item on a seven-month contract, with interest rates set at anything from 1.49 to nine per cent each month (compared with an average 19.5 per cent annually on a bank overdraft and 17.3 on a credit card). The contract is redeemable at any point, but if the customer can’t repay the loan plus interest at the end of the term, the pawnbroker keeps the items and sells them to recoup the value of the loan – either through their own shop or via auction houses and specialist dealers. Nonetheless, James insists that customers know exactly what they’re signing up for. ‘There are no hidden charges,’ he says. ‘And for the first three months our terms are not dissimilar to a bank, especially when you factor in the fact that we have no arrangement fee.’

James will consider anything of worth, using a team of specialists to assess an item’s value. A Lowry painting, a Picasso and a rare book collection worth half a million have all passed over his counter, latterly joined by two rare vintage wedding dresses. They belonged to 45-year-old single mother Stella Brody, who pawned her dresses to buy stock for her antiques business when her bank refused her a loan. ‘My supplier had new goods, so I needed to act quickly,’ she says. ‘Someone suggested the pawnbrokers and the wedding dresses sprang to mind.’ One was Elizabeth Arden and one Dior, the former belonging to her mother and the latter originally for sale in her shop. ‘I didn’t want to part with them, but I knew that once I got my new stock I’d recoup my money quickly and I was right. I was given £7,000 and three months later, I was able to go in and pay £8,000 to get them back. It’s high interest, but I viewed it as a short-term cash injection that enabled me not only to survive but to thrive.’

‘Some customers come back with the same item two or three times’

According to James most customers, like Stella, hope to see their goods again. ‘With smaller items such as jewellery, 60 to 70 per cent of owners come back, while on bigger items, such as cars, it’s 85 to 90 per cent.’ Like most pawnbrokers, he prefers to return items than sell on. ‘If we have to sell we’ve effectively lost a client,’ he says. ‘Whereas we get customers who come back and pawn the same items two or three times whenever they need a short-term injection of cash.’

Nor is Stella the first woman to turn to the pawn merchants to help her business (in 1971, Diane von Furstenberg famously pawned a diamond ring to launch her now iconic wrap dress). However, not everyone is keen to bang the drum for this new breed of lending, among them Jasmine Birtles, who cautions against anyone relying on it too heavily. ‘In general, I am not pro the pawnbroking industry as there are a number of dodgy dealers out there and interest rates are high,’ she says. ‘They’re not as dangerous as taking out a payday loan, but I would advise people to go in with your eyes open and only if you think cheaper options are not available to you.’

Nonetheless, for some women, a visit to the pawnbroker has proved not only useful but strangely liberating. ‘There’s certainly no shame in it,’ says Tiffany Jackson. ‘It’s not our fault we ended up in the situation we did, but this way I feel I am taking control my own way.’

‘I pawned my watches to expand my small company’

Jane Wall-Budden, a 29-year-old mother of two from Byfleet, Surrey, recently pawned two watches, a Cartier and a Rolex, and used the £3,000 she got for them to inject cash into her own growing business, Bumpsters, which markets custom-made cot bumpers. ‘I needed a cash injection to invest in a new product, which I felt would market well with my own invention. It made good business sense, but the bank just saw me as a little cottage industry and weren’t interested.’ The watches were languishing in her bedside table drawer. ‘Frankly, it was the only way I could get my hands on a lump sum. I would say to anyone who was in the same position and had something lying around that wasn’t of huge personal value to do the same.’

‘I used my Chanel and Hermès bags to raise money to fix my bathroom’

‘Money has been tight since I got divorced,’ says Lorraine Giacomelli, a mother of two from Richmond, Southwest London, ‘and when my bathroom flooded earlier this year I didn’t have the funds to fix it. I wasn’t covered by my insurance, and while I could have got a loan or used a credit card I didn’t want to be in debt — which is why I didn’t ask my ex-husband either.
‘He had been very generous while we were married and a friend pointed out that I probably had thousands of pounds’-worth of goods tucked away that I could pawn. So I rooted through my wardrobe and found a pair of £1,000 Christian Louboutin shoes, a £2,000 Chanel handbag and a Hermès bag that had originally cost £17,000.

‘At the pawnbrokers I was offered £4,000 for the lot, at a monthly interest of five per cent. I knew that designer bags go in and out of fashion so I didn’t expect an enormous amount for the Hermès relative to what it had originally cost. The important thing was that it was enough to fix my bathroom. Although I am a stay-at-home mum, with careful budgeting I’m confident I can raise the money to get them back — and if I don’t and I lose the bags and shoes, I won’t be totally heartbroken. That’s why it’s a win-win situation — I got the money I needed and I’m not left in debt in real terms. I felt quite proud that I didn’t have to ask anyone for money. I’d do it again in a heartbeat if I had to.’


Read the full article at:

Prestige Pawnbrokers on the One Show

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Prestige Pawnbrokers appear on BBC’s one Show, click below to view the show on BBC iPlayer:

Modern Pawnbrokers Accept New Swag From Savvy Britons

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WHEN human resources manager Kate Hammond was made redundant early this year, she worried about how she and her husband were going to settle their monthly bills including their mortgage repayments, as they had very little savings.


So, Hammond dug deep into her wardrobe and managed to raise £1,000 (RM4,980) for her short-term cash flow needs, by taking her £800 Mulberry Bayswater handbag and a £2,000 Gucci bag to the pawnbrokers, she told the Daily Mail. Similarly, interior designer Jessica Humphreys pawned her £12,000 black Hermes tote, securing £4,000 to cover several big family bills including school fees and an emergency home repair bill.


Both women are among an increasing number of affluent, middle-class families in the UK who have been turning to pawnbrokers for their cash flow needs since the recession, as tightened household budgets and tough lending conditions at high-street banks force them to seek unconventional funding alternatives. And it’s not just affluent families who are doing it; asset-rich but cash-poor small businesses are also opting for pawnbrokers to fund their short- to medium-term financial needs. Many are attracted by how quickly and discreetly they are able to secure loans from pawnbrokers, as long as they have an asset of value to use as collateral.


These days, pawnbroking is no longer just the traditional “cash for gold” transaction, nor is it just gold, jewellery and Rolex watches that are accepted as collateral. Prestige Pawnbrokers, a high-end pawnbroker based in the affluent suburb of Weybridge in Surrey, describes itself on its website as “pawnbroker loans against: art, watches, gold, jewellery, antiques, cars, logbooks, wine, property & land, and collectables”. Its owner, James Constantinou, told the BBC recently that he accepts anything of value, including fine wines, and no doubt, designer apparel including shoes and handbags.


Since the onset of the financial crisis, the pawnbroking business in the UK has been thriving, although The Independent reports that the industry has been growing steadily since the 1980s, when some of the main players transformed pawnbroking’s shady image by investing in modern, well-lit outlets in good locations.


Trade body National Pawnbrokers Association (NPA) represents members in a £500 million loan market with 1,800 retail outlets growing at a rate of over 10% annually. Last year alone, the total market increased by 15%, with lending to middle-income customers and small businesses accounting for half that growth, its CEO Ray Perry says.


Some of the established names in the industry are expanding rapidly; the AIM-listed Albemarle & Bond group, which had 215 trading outlets at December 2011, is on track to open 25 more stores this year, and a further 25 in 2013. H & T Pawnbrokers, also listed on AIM with 160 shops nationwide, says it experienced record lending levels in 2011, driven by an increased average loan and additional new stores.


The recession has also seen a proliferation of new players in the market, including the UK’s first online pawnbroker, which began trading in mid-2008. Nikolas Michael, said to be the first pawnbroker to open in the Square Mile in a century when it set up shop on London’s Bishopsgate in 2009, has seen a “savvy” City clientele coming in with expensive Swiss watches and Tiffany jewellery for short-term loans to tide them over the bonus drought.


While the greater availability of pawnbroking loans has no doubt been a boon for cash-strapped Britons, there are concerns about the impact of this proliferation of pawn shops and payday loan outlets on various communities. The Guardian reports that there are 11 shops offering payday and pawnbroking loans, as well as “jewellery for cash” on the high street in Walthamstow, North East London, an area known to have high levels of deprivation. Its local MP Stella Creasy contends that these firms, who often lend at a steep cost, are targeting poor areas of the country.


Pawnbroking loans which reportedly charge interest rates of between 5% and 10% a month, or a starting annual percentage rate (APR) of 69% are considered a cheaper form of short-term borrowing than the average payday loan, which can charge an APR equivalent to more than 1,000%. Customers will however, need to repay the loan within a stipulated time period, usually six months, or risk losing their item. According to the NPA, 85% of loans from pawnbrokers are usually redeemed.


For all its pros and cons, there is little doubt that the pawnbroking industry has benefited from the financial crisis and recession and continues to have growth potential, particularly as bank lending continues to remain tight. What also bodes well for the high-end segment of the industry is the fact that insecurity about unstable financial markets has seen investors increasingly turning to alternative investments as safe havens for their money.


A recent study by Barclays bank shows that high-net worth individuals now hold 9.6% of their wealth in such assets, including what former economist Joe Roseman terms as “swag” silver, wine, art and gold.


And while it remains debatable whether or not designer apparel can be considered a “safe haven” asset class, the fact that it is a store of value accepted by pawnbrokers is certainly an added incentive to buy that must-have designer handbag.


Lim Yin Foong was editor of Personal Money, a Malaysian personal finance magazine published by The Edge Communications, from 2001 to 2006. She is currently based in the UK. This story appeared in The Edge Financial Daily on June 27, 2012.


Full article can be read at

Pawnbrokers attracting new custom

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By Catherine Burns
Business reporter, BBC News


 James Constantinou and his staff hear all sorts of tales.


“Some find it a little bit shameful, but others come in and want to tell you their whole life story. A lot of people want to tell you about their predicament,” he says.


“It is almost like they need to tell someone. You do hear a lot of stories – divorces, redundancies, a lot of heartbreak tales.”


But Mr Constantinou is not a counsellor, police officer or a priest. He is a pawnbroker. Or, more exactly, a high-end pawnbroker.


While he says business is booming, financial advisers point out that people’s belongings are at risk of sale if they fail to pay back the loan.


Designer goods


If you think of pawnbrokers, you probably imagine people getting cash for gold or watches. Mr Constantinou does that, but says he has noticed a gap in the market, and has decided to focus on more expensive items too.


He is based in leafy and affluent Weybridge, in Surrey. Clients from all across the country courier their valuables to his shop, Prestige Pawnbrokers.


He will pawn anything of value, from fine wines and art to rare books and antiques.


The shop opened just as the recession was kicking in, and he says it is getting busier all the time.


“More and more people are coming through the door, they have been to the banks, and have been turned down for an overdraft or loan,” he says.


“So, they are looking round their homes, and they are finding out they have actually got items they can use as collateral.”


He is not the only one to benefit from this, with new pawnbroker shops opening up.


The National Pawnbrokers Association says business increased by 15% in 2011, and thinks that half of that is down to middle-income customers, and small businesses.


The way it works is simple. The customer brings along something to pawn, and usually walks away with a loan worth around 70% of its market value.


They have at least six months to pay it back, and interest rates tend to be between 5% and 10%.


Quick cash


At Christmas, Lorraine Giacomelli’s bathroom flooded. It was ruined, and the damage had spread to her downstairs neighbour’s home.


“I was really, really upset and just did not know where I was going to get the money from. I did not have a clue how I was going to get this thing sorted out,” she says.


A friend suggested she went to a pawnbroker. She says she was not convinced at first.


“I did not think I had anything worth pawning to be honest. I thought it would be jewellery and stuff,  but I had my shoes and my handbags, and got £4,000 on the same day.”


And so, the pawnbroker is keeping her shoes and handbags in secure storage. She has got until August to pay back her loan, with interest of £196 a month.


But, if she does not find the cash, then she will lose her items.


At that stage, the pawnbroker can sell them. If he makes more than the original loan and interest, she will get to keep the difference.


“It is in our interest that the client gets the item back. It is a common misconception that the pawnbroker wants to sell the item,” says Mr Constantinou.


Instead, he says he tries to extend the term of the loan.


“We are in the business of making money out of the interest, so if we have to sell an item, it is not in our interest at all. We lose a client. ”




David Braithwaite, from Citrus Financial Management, says there are certain advantages to using a pawnbroker.


“It is probably cheaper than something like a payday loan,” he says.


“But the big advantage of a pawnbroker is that you do not have to go through normal credit checks, like you would if you were applying for a bank loan or credit card.


“So it can be viewed as a simpler, no questions asked way of getting money. And you get it very quickly as well.”


But he points out that it is basically a secured loan.


“It is almost like a mortgage. So, rather than having it secured on your house, you are having your loan secured on your item.


“You need to have an item that is worth securing a loan on. If you do not pay back your loan, your item is at risk. They will take that back off you.”


Read the article featured on the BBC Website

Would you pawn your handbag?

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Excerpt from Daily Mail / Femail article on Pawning your hangbag

Within ten minutes of arriving at high-end pawnbroker Prestige Asset Finance in Weybridge, Jessica had signed the paperwork and left with £4,000 — and a huge sense of relief. She could now cover her bills, and was confident she would be able to repay her loan and reclaim her Hermes tote within the six-month term.
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Posh Pawnbrokers

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If you thought that pawn-broking was a last resort….think again!
Jess Contomichalos chats to James Constantinou, Managing Director of Prestige Asset
Finance Ltd and finds out, that surprisingly his customers are mostly middle to upper class

When finance is your business, you know only too well the economic struggle that goes on behind closed doors. James Constantinou has been dealing with wealthy customers who are asset rich but cash poor for several years now. ‘the service we offer is popular with people in this area as many of them have had good lifestyles, have amassed a variety of great assets but have suffered in the recent recession and need to release equity quickly. Often, for personal reasons they don’t want to go through the normal channels or can’t – which is where we step in’, says James.
Prestige Asset Finance offers a safe, responsible way of raising cash through pawning your valuables. ‘Everyone has something of value, whether it’s gold, jewellery, watches, antiques, fine wines, rare books, or perhaps a prestigious car, says James. ‘I can offer them a loan against their valuable property without the misery of them having to actually part with it. This system works very well and has proven to be a great help in times of trouble’, says James.
‘Recently, one very successful gentleman had taken a bit of a financial tumble; he’d been refused an overdraft from his two high street banks. He came to us as what he saw as, a ‘last resort’, but his visit to Prestige ended up being the beginning of a fresh start for him and a positive way out of the situation he’d found himself in’, explains James.
Reading between the lines, James offers a loan for people who need to raise cash quickly against their valuables…but is it a good option or is it for desperate people? ‘Loans can be arranged with cash funds instantly available, we don’t require proof of income or run credit checks’, says James. In times of financial crisis customers can be guaranteed a good deal with Prestige Asset Finance – customers know where they stand and there are no hidden charges. ‘A lot of people come to us with jewellery…gold or diamonds, but we are often asked to take fine art, first edition books…even Range Rovers…which obviously we can accommodate!’ smiles James.
So, how does it work? ‘Although the loan is for 7 months, it may be repaid at any time during that period. The borrower will only pay interest for the amount of months the loan is outstanding. If the borrower takes out a loan and repays after 3 months, then only 3 months of interest will be due with no exit penalties. At the end of the loan term (7 months) the borrower may take the option to pay the interest only and renew the loan for a further 7 months and part payments can be made at any time during the loan term’ explains James.
In times of economic stress and uncertainty this may well be the way to go. When the banks won’t lend because of their unforgiving credit checks, in the short term, pawning your assets does seem to be a viable option. James has a list of colourful case studies which illustrate the type of people that turn to him for help – these are not people pawning their old gold jewellery, these are affluent customers who are swapping their classic cars, fine wines and diamonds for a short-term cash solution.

James and his team are finding that the general trend seems to be that people are just about managing their day to day finances, but as soon as something unexpected crops up they cannot make ends meet. ‘Basically when funds are needed people come to us to raise the money fast…it’s a simple and suitable option that is fairly stress free and not adding to their problematic time’, says James.

Having heard how it works and seen how easy it can be to raise cash, I think it’s time to ditch the old Dickensian view of the pawn broker and positively embrace this very reasonable service that is helping people on a daily basis to overcome their unexpected difficulties.



1. A local restaurant recently pawned their fine wines to raise cash to help them back on their feet after several bad months of business due to people dining in rather than out.

2. A City banker who had been made redundant loaned against his black Lamborghini for four months until he found new employment.

3. Asset Finance helped one family prevent a repossession of their home by lending money against a 20k diamond ring of 4 karats. The family were able to pay the four months arrears, avoiding an eviction and giving the borrower time to market the property and set up a manageable repayment scheme until the property sold.

4. Two generations of one family pulled together with their assets to raise unexpected funeral fees’ the items loaned against were two family watches and a necklace

  • Council tax bills
  • Utility bills
  • School fees
  • Child care costs
  • Dentist bills
  • Pet bills
  • Motor car repairs


  • Light Aircraft
  • Boat
  • Contents of a family estate including stuffed Lion!



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    Prestige Pawnbrokers
    67 New House
    Hatton Garden
    EC1N 8JY

    Tel: 0800 917 6894

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