Amigo Holdings, a UK-based sub-prime moneylender, has grown its gross Irish loan book to €8.2m as the company confirms it is planning to double the size of its operation here.
In Ireland, Amigo provides loans of up to €5,000 to people who may have been declined by banks and credit unions, by listing a friend or family member as the guarantor. It first entered the Irish market in February 2019 where it offers loans with an annual interest rate of close to 50pc.
According to Amigo's financial results for the year ended March 2020, the company grew its gross loan book to €8.2m with around 3,400 customers signed up. It paused lending at the end of March in response to Covid-19.
The Irish subsidiary is also expanding its operation. It has 18 employees here and has plans to double staff over the year.
Daniel Hawkins, managing director of Amigo Loans Ireland, said the results over the year had been positive for the company.
"I am really positive about what we have seen so far in Ireland," he said. "I think it shows our ability to open up in new territories. We have seen the demand exists here and I see that demand growing."
Hawkins said Covid-19 had put a pause on some of the growth it had experienced in Ireland. He added the company had offered interest-free payment holidays for up to three months to customers affected by the pandemic.
"Up until March and the dramatic change happened, things were progressing strongly," he said. "We were ticking over and above our target. We were happy with the growth and how the business was performing and keen to see that growth continue.
"Covid-19 hit us all, at which point we ceased lending to all but key workers in emergency situations. That brought things to a stop temporarily."
Hawkins said Amigo hoped to begin lending again "in weeks rather than months" as he had seen application volumes had remained strong throughout the Covid-19 period. "We know the demand is out there," he said.
In the UK, Amigo has been hit by a surge of complaints from customers, with a backlog of 9,000. In the financial year ending March 31, complaints cost the business £126.8m, compared with only around £100,000 in 2019.
Earlier this month, Amigo reached an agreement with the UK's Financial Conduct Authority which gives it until October 30 to ensure customers with complaints do not need to wait more than eight weeks before their claim is handled.
Hawkins said the company had designed the Irish product to ensure it abided by the regulations here and had embraced the recently introduced rules for money lending here. He had seen a "very, very small" number of complaints from customers here.
In its annual results, Amigo - which is listed on the London Stock Exchange - said it made a pre-tax loss of £37.9m, compared with a £111m profit the year before, on revenue of £294m.
Sunday Indo Business