Premium Credit has announced ambitious expansion plans to start lending in six European countries.

Sales and marketing director Simon Moran said that Premium Credit was starting its European campaign by opening up a business in the Republic of Ireland.

He added that five more European countries were under consideration by the premium finance provider.

Moran explained that Premium Credit had some business in Ireland through national brokers and that the deals were managed from the UK.

He said that to grow in Ireland, Premium Credit needed an Irish-based business. "Irish brokers like to work on a deal-by-deal approach," he said.

Moran estimated the Irish insurance market to be around 5%-8% of the size of the UK market, with premiums of ¤2bn (£1.34bn).

"But there is a much higher degree of finance, with 25% of the market being financed compared to 10%-15% in the UK," he added.

Premium Credit is hoping to use its association with MBNA, which has 1,000 employees based in Carrick and 50 based in Dublin, to take on rivals in the Irish market including Close, IIB, AIB, and Woodchester. MBNA bought Premium Credit in January 2004.

"MBNA is a big name over there already and we will be hoping to use its reputation to open some doors," said Moran.