I keep seeing those “rent to own” shops selling boring furniture and sparkly electronics on our High Streets and am intrigued and worried by this return to a retail concept led by Radio Rentals and Granada (sing along now, “Great service, great sets, that what you get…at Granada” that seemed to suffer a slow death in the UK when I was young (I believe it is still big in Australia).
So when I saw an interview with Leo McKee the Bright-House CEO in a daily paper I was drawn in. I always had a gut feeling that the likes of Bright-House were about making money from those who had very little and/or struggled to manage finances to their best advantage. Reading this interview did nothing to alleviate my concerns.
One product Bright-House sells is the Mac Book Air laptop. Bright-House customers can buy it in weekly installments over two years for £2080 or they can buy it outright, immediately for £1156.51. Those of us who are lucky enough to be able to afford to shop at John Lewis can buy the very same product, at full John Lewis RRP for £849!
I don’t really need to say more on the subject other than in the interview Leo McKee was asked who he would be voting for in the May 2015 General Election and it wouldn’t be Labour and it would be Conservative. It seems pretty obvious why. In the last 5 years Bright-House have opened 197 shops and profits are growing at a fair old rate. In their last financial year they made a profit of £52.6 million from sales of £333 million. That is quite some profit margin. Could some of it have come from a government that has presided over an ever widening gap between the rich and the poor and is a government whose austerity policies fuels the “rent to own” sector?