The Courier-Mail

Spruced up Auswide beats market forecasts

- LIAM WALSH

BUNDABERG-based Auswide Bank has been cutting and sprucing its branch network to woo more customers.

“Ugly, old, tired branches certainly are not the best thing for our staff (and) they certainly don’t attract new customers,” Auswide chief executive Martin Barrett said.

Branch numbers fell from 33 in February to 24, with some outlets consolidat­ed when close to another – as little as 500 metres apart. Six branches were given a new look during the year. Mr Barrett said while cost savings would occur, the main considerat­ion was improving the branch look and usage. It will also look at a new branch in Brisbane.

Auswide’s full-year profit hit $13.3 million, down from $14 million. Auswide changed name from Wide Bay building society this year, and stripped out rebranding and other costs to say underlying profits rose 7.4 per cent to $13.1 million.

Final dividends rose from 15 to 16 . Auswide’s loan book grew 4.8 per cent to $2.33 billion. Loans in arrears improved to $22.3 million from $43 million.

Bell Potter analyst TS Lim said loan growth was a “credible performanc­e” and profits were ahead of expectatio­ns. A LAWSUIT settlement costing $23 million and a sweeping restructur­e in the UK have dragged pawnbroker Cash Converters into the red.

It posted $21.7 million fullyear loss, compared to a profit of $24.2 million a year earlier.

The Australian lender and second-hand goods retailer in June settled a class action brought by NSW borrowers who claimed they were slugged with excessive interest.

The company is also facing a class action from Queensland borrowers claiming excessive fees, which Cash Converters has said it will vigorously defend.

Shares in the company tumbled 5.5 to 44.5 yesterday.

It will not pay a dividend.

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