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When tech goes wrong: Banksy’s shredder was meant to totally destroy his artwork

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Doorstep lender Provident still bearing the scars of botched tech overhaul

DOORSTEP lender Provident Financial today admitted it was still feeling the hangover of the botched overhaul that plunged the company into crisis more than a year ago.

The firm’s attempts to replace its army of part-time collectors with a full-time workforce using a new IT system proved disastrous, sending collection rates plunging.

The Provvy, as it is affectionately known, also had to launch an emergency £300 million rights issue after a regulatory probe.

Provident said today that its recovery plan for the home credit business was “substantially complete” but collections remain some 10% below historic levels.

Chief executive Malcolm Le May: said: “The home credit business is still experiencing the drag on collections performance from those customers who were active during the poorly executed migration to the new operating model in the third quarter of 2017.

“Importantly, customers who have taken credit from us since then are performing in line with historic levels.”

Funding Circle reveals loan growth in first update since IPO flop 

Funding Circle is starting to bounce back from its difficult listing after reporting a surge in the value of new loans on its books.

The peer-to-peer lender’s loans under management jumped in value by 60pc to £2.8bn in its third quarter, while its investors funded a record £564m of new loans in the three-month period to the end of September, a rise of 45pc.

Shares in the company rose more than 3pc to 436p off the back of the announcement, although this was still below the 440p they were priced at when they debuted on the London Stock Exchange last month. 

The results, which are the company’s first since it listed, will come as a welcome news for the eight-year-old lender. Funding Circle’s shares dropped to as low as 340p on its first day of trading, amid fears the company was being overvalued. Shortly before its stock market flotation, Funding Circle trimmed its valuation from £1.8bn to £1.5bn.

City advisers told The Daily Telegraph that Funding Circle and luxury car maker Aston Martin’s recent stock market listings had dampened investors’ appetite for floats and caused a number of deals to be put on the back burner. 

One senior banker said the coming months would be “sparse” in terms of activity as "IPOs are being canned on account of the gross mishandling of Aston Martin and Funding Circle, combined with market volatility". 

Funding Circle was set up by three friends in the aftermath of the financial crisis as an alternative to traditional banks, and pairs up small and medium-sized firms with investors. It has served 50,000 businesses including a giant teddy company and a jetpack business

British companies grow profits as retail and oil bounce back

The profitability of companies increased slightly in the second quarter of 2018, boosted by an uptick in retail sales and a higher oil price lifting firms in the North Sea.

Services companies, which make up around four-fifths of the economy, increased their rate of return - a measure of profits after capital has been spent - from 16.6pc in the first quarter of the year to 17.2pc in the second.

Despite increases, this was still 1pc lower than the 2017 average of 18.2pc, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS suggested that much of the improvement was due to the retail sector bouncing back following a poor first quarter blighted by bad weather. However, these improvements were not enough to make up for the rocky start to the year and get profits to 2017 levels.

The research also said that the service sector had been boosted by demand for business services after changes to regulation like GDPR and increases in mergers and acquisitions.

The rate of return of manufacturing companies dipped slightly between April and June 2018 from 15.6pc to 15.1pc, but remained above historic levels. The sector’s profitability is still far higher than 2009 lows of 4.4pc.

Chocolate is applied to McVitie’s digestives at the United Biscuits factory in London. More goods consumed in the UK are expected to be produced domestically after Brexit Credit: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

These continued higher returns could be due to companies “reshoring” manufacturing and supply chains to the UK on fears of trade barriers after Brexit. This would mean that more products consumed in the UK would be made domestically.

Continental shelf companies - which include many North Sea oil and gas producers - had a large increase in their profitability, rising from 8.2pc in the first quarter of the year to 13.1pc between April and June. These companies would have been helped by supply restrictions by oil cartel Opec, which helped increase the oil price from $68.2 per barrel in April to $79.50 in June.