The chief executive of Countrywide, Alison Platt, has hinted her firm may invest in, or acquire, an internet start-up company to boost her agency’s digital offering in the sales and lettings sectors.
In an address to investors in Countrywide, Platt has promised “we won’t be paying for market share and brand” - a likely indicator that the agency group, which is the largest in Britain, is not interested in buying an existing major player in the online agency world.
Instead Countrywide has initiated what Platt calls “Project Shoreditch” to look at how the group could improve its digital activities. In addition to considering buying a start-up, future improvements are likely to include lettings apps and portals which will make it easier for landlords and tenants to make contact with the company, and will also include a review of Countrywide brands’ current websites.
Platt told investors that in 2007 Countrywide secured 1.5m leads online; in 2014, via Rightmove, Zoopla and Propertywide, it secured 7.5m leads online.
Platt also said that over the past 12 months there had been a marked shift of online users accessing Countrywide information from mobile devices - some 60 per cent of visits now come from mobile devices, whereas just a year ago the proportion was only 35 per cent.
To that end, Countrywide has already shifted much of its web content on to a platform called Minerva, which was mobile-led in terms of presentation.
She also hinted that Countrywide was likely to be making further announcements about its digital future in the coming months.