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Pontyclun debt collection firm expands into Bristol.

DEBT collection and recovery is seen as one of the few boom industries during times of recession, as businesses struggle with their finances in lean times.

But Thornbury Collections in Pontyclun have had to go through tough times themselves before their recent expansion into Bristol.

The debt mediation firm had grown steadily every year since it was founded in 2002 by former business colleagues Peter Hopkins and Tom O'Brian, until the recession hit - but has now noted signs of progress and operates at an annual turnover of just less than pounds 1m.

There are six staff employed at its Pontyclun base. It has just opened up an office in Bristol and has plans to expand further.

The firm counts the likes of Lloyds Bank, Julian Hodge Bank and Mercedes among its clients, as well as hundreds of SMEs and individual traders.

Debt recovery consultant Steve White also joined the company three years ago.

He said: "The recession was tough for the firm, as it was for everyone, as companies were less willing to outsource their recovery services when they were tightening their belts.

"But our appeal has always been in our mediatory position - we don't take sides.

"Mediation is absolutely vital in these cases. An issue is very rarely a money-oriented one, it is usually a communication problem between firms.

"We have a tried-and-tested method of no-win, no-fee and we believe wholeheartedly in not going to court to resolve disputes and have an excellent record of recovery when it has gone to court."

Former investigative police officer and forces veteran Mr White also chairs a small business networking group in Cardiff, which brings together small businesses to support each other and suggest ways of improving their performance. Certain areas of the economy have been hit by consumers' budgeting in harder times, which have called upon Thornbury far more than in boom times.

Mr White cited several gyms which had lost out by people taking out annual subscriptions when the economy was good, but then cancelling their contract when going through their family budget.

Thornbury maintains their "neutral" approach is one that they want to maintain, however big they become.

"Our aim for the future is to continue helping people as best we can in the traditional way - we are as far from the baseball-bat wielding image that many people have of debt recovery agencies as you can get," Mr White added.

CAPTION(S):

EXPANSION: Debt recovery consultant Steve White of Pontyclun debt mediation firm Thornbury Collections PICTURE: Peter Bolter
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 28, 2010
Words:419
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