A BUMPER start to 2019 has been recorded by an expanding Blackburn lender.

Praetura Asset Finance has seen a 30 per cent increase in the amount they have lent over the first quarter.

And the number of small and medium sized businesses they have helped has risen by a fifth.

The Walker Park based outfit has also achieved a 62 per cent hike in asset refinancing.

Bosses are also pleased that they have increased the proportion of their SME assistance in the Midlands and North of England, with their figures rising by 68 and 63 per cent respectively.

Mike Hartley, managing director, said: "These are exciting times. We're going from strength to strength and what we've seen in the first quarter of this year is surely a sign of things to come.”

Earlier this year Praetura, which recently took over Cheshire-based Kingsway, relocated from Brownhill to their new offices, off Blackamoor Road.

Two new appointments have also been unveiled, with Gabriella Dandy coming in as their financial controller in February and Kristina Bradley installed as a business analyst role in March.