Worried customers of the defunct pawnbroker Albemarle & Bond (A&B) have been told they can collect their pawned goods from branches of rival chain H&T. Many have faced difficulties redeeming items used as collateral for loans after 116 A&B pawn shops shut abruptly earlier this month. Some even feared goods such as jewellery and gold would never be returned. H&T said its "immediate focus" was to support A&B's 30,000 customers. The firm has agreed to buy £8m worth of loans linked to customers' belongings - known as "pledge books" - from Speedloan Finance, which had traded under the name Albemarle & Bond.

The deal will mean customers of A&B can redeem or extend their existing loans at H&T's 248 UK pawn shops. Customers were taken by surprise when A&B abruptly ceased trading earlier in September, blaming "significant" financial losses.Pawned items at its shops were swiftly moved to a central storage facility in Oxford, giving customers little chance to redeem them. And there was outcry when many were unable to get through to the company's helpline to find out about the whereabouts of their goods.