Retailers' Credit Union To Defy Payday Lenders

30/05/2014

shutterstock_332302781.jpg

Some of Britain's biggest high street names, including New Look and Next, are forming a credit union that will offer staff an alternative to the sky-high interest rates charged by payday lenders.

RetailCure, which has also received backing from entrepreneurs such as Rymans owner Theo Paphitis, is drawing up plans to launch later this year.

The new venture has received start-up funding of £1m and will eventually be accessible to the 4.8 million people who work directly in retail or in related sectors of the economy, half of whom earn less than £8 an hour.

It will be chaired by John Lovering, a veteran retailer who has led buyouts of companies including Debenhams, Homebase and Somerfield.

Mr Lovering is also chairman of the Retail Trust, an industry charity which has been working on plans for the new credit union for some time.

Speaking to Sky News, he said: "The industry feels that we have to find a way of providing a source of cheap, reliable credit for our people.

"The three million in retail and the nearly five million in the wider industry do have a need for low-cost, value-for-money, short-term borrowing facilities, and that's what we as an industry are trying to provide."

Booker and Matalan have also agreed to support RetailCure, while John Lewis Partnership and Wm Morrison have been approached and are expected to provide financial assistance.

The launch of RetailCure comes amid a still-intense political debate about the business model employed by payday lenders, which charge interest rates that work out at more than 5,000% on an annual basis.

The high street chains' credit union will charge interest on a sliding scale from roughly 7% to nearly 28% depending upon the borrower's credit history.

Mr Lovering expects the average loan request to be lower than £5,000, and believes that RetailCure could ultimately become Britain's biggest credit union.