Posh Pawn star James Constantinou sets up new pawnbrokers in Loughton
PUBLISHED: 11:30 29 January 2019 | UPDATED: 11:30 29 January 2019
© Pete Dadds / Channel 4
James Costantinou, star of TV's Posh Pawn has his sights set on revolutionising the pawn broking business, and part of his plan is setting up shop in Loughton | Words: Kelly Beswick
James Constantinou is that rare thing – a man who knows an opportunity when he sees one and then seizes upon it fearlessly, maximising all that it affords.
It’s a quality summed up by his business mantra: let desire for gain be greater than fear of loss, and it’s what’s taken him from East End high school drop out to multi-millionaire businessman, via classic car dealing, property developing and, more recently and most famously, pawn broking.
But not just any old pawn broking. No, that would be far too prosaic for James. He prefers to lend against some of the highest end assets you can imagine, be it super yachts, Lamborghinis, wine collections, Rolex watches, fine art or Chanel handbags.
No wonder his company, Prestige Pawnbrokers, immediately attracted so much attention, transforming perceptions of an archaic industry that feeds off poverty into one that was sleek and fast-paced with its customer base firmly among the eye-wateringly wealthy. TV fame quickly followed in the form of Channel 4’s Posh Pawn, turning James into a household name.
“The show really captured people’s imagination,” confirms James, whose dark good looks belie his 51 years. “People find it fascinating that it doesn’t matter where you come from, whether it’s a run down, inner city council estate or St George’s Hill in Weybridge, anyone can find it tough at anytime.”
Indeed, it was witnessing first-hand how some of his well-heeled friends were coping after the 2008 crash that first persuaded James to enter the pawn broking game. “Houses were being repossessed, children were being pulled from private schools and they couldn’t even meet the simple demands of paying their electricity and gas,” James recalls.
“The banks had completely pulled the rugs from under a lot of good people’s feet. They’d gone from no due diligence when lending to making it almost impossible.”
Just as in the early 90s, when the recession and subsequent repossessions made a rental portfolio an attractive proposition to James (which in turn led to property development, specifically new builds), so the banking crisis proved with pawn broking and thus Prestige Pawnbrokers was born.
“It just seemed the perfect profession to get into under the circumstances,” says James. “But I couldn’t understand why existing pawn brokers were only lending on mundane assets, not more high cost items like cars and suchlike. I guess they didn’t want to take the risk, but my philosophy has always been you’ve got to be in it to win it, in other words no pain, no gain.”
Since that eureka moment, Prestige Pawnbrokers has gone from strength to strength, having last month opened up a fifth branch in Loughton.
“It’s such a great place for us,” James attests. “It’s full of people with assets – the cars, the watches etc. They don’t mind spending a few quid and that’s the carrot. Also people’s attitude to pawn broking over in Loughton is more accepting.”
To make his point, James recounts an amusing story. “Before we opened, I was over in Loughton checking the site when this guy walked in. He told me he had a Ferrari in the car park out back and would I like to take a look at it. I explained we weren’t open yet and he just shrugged his shoulders and asked when we would be, as he’d come back then.”
Obviously discretion is key when it comes to pawn broking, but James reckons people would be amazed at some of the big names he has lent to.
“Some of our clients are very high profile, but at some point and for some reason they’ve needed to get hold of money,” he says. “If you think about it, a lot of people in the entertainment world are self employed, so their access to fast cash is even more difficult.”
As for James’ brush with the world of entertainment via Posh Pawn, it appears that after five years and seven series, the show has come to an end.
“Well let’s put it this way, they’ve not got back to me to talk about doing more shows,” explains James, who doesn’t dismiss more television opportunities if the right vehicle came along.
“It would have to focus on my expertise and help build up business, so you won’t be seeing me on Strictly anytime soon,” he grins.
As suspected, James is definitely not a satin and sequins sort of guy!