Shares in doorstep lender Provident Financial plunged 58% after it issued its second profit warning in months.
It says it now expects to make losses of £80m to £120m as its debt collection rates have dropped to 57% compared with a previous rate of 90% in 2016.
Bradford-based Provident recently changed the way it collected its loans, replacing self-employed agents with “customer experience managers”.
Its chief executive, Peter Crook, has resigned.
The company has some 2.5 million customers, many of whom would not qualify for a standard bank loan and are therefore categorised as “sub-prime”.
The BBC has been contacted by a number of former Provident agents. All of them left when the collection system was changed and many are angry.
They say they had had a strong relationship with their borrowers,
One former manager, Mike Thompson, said: “The previous Home Credit model, using local self-employed agents who were friends and relatives of the customers, ensures affordable appropriate borrowing.
“Drafting in customer experience managers working on phone apps has meant that the all-important relationship between agent and customer has been broken.”
Provident had already flagged up problems with its new system in June.
At the time, Provident said not enough of its self-employed debt collectors had applied to become employed by the company.
It had also been less effective at collecting money and selling new loans, and a greater number of agents than normal had left.
It said then it expected profits to be £60m at its consumer credit division.
The company is undertaking “a thorough and rapid review of home credit’s performance”, and will not now pay the interim dividend it promised just a month ago.
Its other divisions – Vanquis Bank, sub-prime car loan business Moneybarn and consumer credit brand Satsuma – are trading in line with plans, it says.
However, Vanquis has been under investigation by watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority, which had concerns about one of its products.
The company agreed to suspend all sales and is awaiting the outcome of that probe.
Manjit Wolstenholme, executive chairman who will also now act as chief executive, said: “I am very disappointed to have to announce the rapid deterioration in the outlook for the home credit business.”
She added that there was unlikely to be a full year dividend payout.
Tuesday’s share price fall is of a similar magnitude to that seen in reaction to the first profit warning in June, and leaves the shares at 723p. Just three months ago the shares were trading at 3,100p.
Neil Wilson, from ETX Capital, said: “There is no easy way out from this hole.
“Management will take a long time to regain credibility… The performance is abysmal and significantly worse than management ever could have imagined… Is this the end? There must be some sense that things cannot get any worse.”
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