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Advent-Morro pumps $5M into La Familia pawnshop chain

Private equity firm Advent-Morro announced Tuesday it is investing $5 million in pawnshop chain La Familia to support its expansion plans in Florida and Puerto Rico.

“The investment in La Familia is a unique opportunity to invest in the fast growing pawnshop industry, where recently Governor Luis Fortuño signed a law that will strongly regulate the industry in favor of the consumer,” said Cyril Meduña, Advent-Morro founder and managing partner, referring to Law 23 that enforces the regulation of the pawnshop industry.

“The new law and its regulation will position the industry for organized growth and will dispel the ‘taboo’ syndrome traditionally associated with certain pawnshop operations,” he added.

This will allow those operators that meet the new requirements under the law like La Familia, to offer excellent customer service and a diverse number of financial products to an underserved segment of the population that banks don’t cater to,” Meduña added.

La Familia was founded in 2009 by pawnshop industry veterans John Thedford and Woody Whitcomb in Orlando, Florida. The chain’s second location opened in Bayamón soon after. At present, La Familia has 18 stores, of which five are in Puerto Rico and the rest in Florida. Its expansion happened rather quickly, as La Familia capitalized on the availability of several retail locations formerly occupied by Blockbuster to establish more locations. Its strategy has been reported in The New York Times, The Times (London) and The Wall Street Journal.

La Familia employs a total of 158 people: 111 in Florida and 47 new positions in Puerto Rico filled in the past 12 months.

“We are thrilled to have Advent‐Morro as one of our business partners and as members of our board of directors. We have already benefitted from their experience and talent in helping develop young companies like ours,” La Familia President John Thedford said.

Additionally, with this infusion of capital, we will meet our objective of expanding our business, more than doubling the number of stores in Puerto Rico and in the U.S. Hispanic market. We have a unique operation model, focused on meeting the multiple financial needs of the consumer in those markets,” he said.

La Familia offers loan services and other financing alternatives to meet the financial needs of a population sector that does not have access to commercial banking or other financial institutions. In Puerto Rico, there are approximately 180 pawnshops registered to do business, generating annual revenue of about $30 million, the Office of the Commissioner of Financial Institutions data shows.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 30 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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