BIRKENHEAD financial services to hampers group Park is contemplating expanding its prepaid cards and vouchers range onto the European mainland.
The firm launched its flexecash prepaid card brand in June 2010 and has seen its popularity soar.
Employers can use it to offer staff incentives or it can be bought as a present and so far it boasts more than 600 corporate users, from Marks & Spencer to Argos, and by March 31 this year it had £77m of value loaded across about 1.7m cards.
In 2010 Park bought an Irish hamper business which it is using to introduce its Love2shop vouchers and prepaid cards and chief executive Chris Houghton said it is the perfect test bed for its euro-enabled products.
He told the Liverpool Post: “Flexecash is euro-enabled, which could clearly offer significant opportunity for geographic expansion.”
He said more than 30 Irish retailers are now participating with the roll-out of Park’s financial products and added: “We are learning a lot about the potential for going into other euro denominated areas in the future, if it is the right thing to do.
“With our FSA (Financial Services Authority) approval we can passport the prepaid card to other European countries.
“Prepaid cards are gaining momentum across Europe. There are prepaid cards out there, But in the UK we are slightly ahead – there is potential over there.”
Park’s annual results to March 31, released earlier this week, revealed the transformation the group has undergone and the role its financial products, such as flexecash, now play in its revenues.
Christmas hamper sales, which were the basis of the Park’s foundation by chairman Peter Johnson in 1967, now represent just 5% of group turnover.
Park reported an 11% rise in billings of £329m, which represents total income from its hampers and pre-paid cards and vouchers, before payment to retailers for card transactions.
Pre-tax profits were £8.6m, down from £12.5m last year, but that included a one-off VAT refund and a one-off £5.5m gain on a property disposal, so profit before tax after stripping out these gains was 23% ahead at £8.6m compared with £7m.