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Countrywide to battle for market share as chairman admits firm ‘lost its way’

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  • 26/01/2018
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Countrywide to battle for market share as chairman admits firm ‘lost its way’
Countrywide interim executive director Peter Long has acknowledged the group’s spiralling performance, and announced his intentions to revitalise the business, following Alison Platt’s departure as chief executive.

 

Long told Property Week in an interview that Countrywide had been “outdone” by competition, and needed to regain market share from its rivals.

Long said: “We agreed we had to focus on fixing the business, all our energy should go into that.”

Countrywide is the UK’s largest owner of estate agency brands, with more than 40 high street titles such as Gascoigne-Pees, Taylors, and Hamptons under its belt.

However, the group made headlines earlier this week as Platt announced her exit following the issuing of a second profit warning in three months.

“We have to stop the decline in our market share,” Long continued, “Our competitors have beaten us and we need to build it back up again.”

The latest profit warning forecast profits to drop 22% to £65m in 2017, down from £83.5m in 2016 – owing to disappointing performance from its core sales and lettings arm which had “lost focus”.

“In the middle of last year, Alison made herself responsible for the sales and lettings die of the business, but the business was not delivering what was anticipated,” said Long.

“Of course, there was pressure on Alison, and the right decision has been made… we’ve lost our way in sales and lettings,” he added.

 

Unified

Long said that the financial services, B2B and commercial arms of Countrywide are “very well-run”, but added that the flailing core estate agency business will remain the focus of the revitalisation efforts.

Long also said there are no plans to sell LSH, Countrywide’s commercial property business.

“We conducted a review of LSH’s place in the business last year and concluded it would remain in the business.”

A spokesperson for Countrywide confirmed that are no plans to sell any part of Countrywide, as it will “continue to operate under a unified brand”.

In accordance with standard contract terms and with the inclusion of pension contributions, Platt will receive a £675,000 payment upon leaving.

Until a successor is appointed, Long will act as executive chairman. In this interim period, Long’s remuneration has been increased to £360,000 per annum, from £180,000 that he previously received as non-executive chairman.

Meanwhile, managing director of commercial development, Paul Creffield, has been appointed group operations director.

Countrywide’s share price hit an all-time high in March 2014 at 686.4p – at the time of writing, the group’s shares stood at 102.00p, after a period of volatility which saw drops following the profit warning, and a slight pickup after news broke over Platt’s resignation.

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