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Countrywide upheaval continues as 'digital future' chief resigns

Countrywide says the man charged with planning the organisation’s digital future is to step down - just days after he was discussing details of a vision for ‘hybrid’ estate agencies.

A statement to Estate Agent Today from Samantha Tyrer, managing director for retail at Countrywide, says: “Chief Digital Officer Alex Bailes is stepping down at Countrywide to pursue other opportunities and will be leaving the company at the beginning of January 2016. We would like to thank Alex for his commitment and support to Countrywide and wish him well for the future.”

No other details of the departure are available but only last Wednesday Bailes was outlining to the 'Future: Prop Tech' conference in London. He suggested Countrywide saw the ‘hybrid’ agency as the likely business model for agencies in future.


At the event Bailes said Countrywide had commissioned one of the biggest pieces of research undertaken on the future of estate agents, surveying 3,000 consumers.

The results, he said, had shown that the public did not want purely online agency services, especially as online agents’ share of the wider sales and lettings market was so low. 

“It’s all about the hybrid space” he explained, saying the research demonstrated that consumers wanted local expertise and a competitive sale price for their property most of all. Critically, the fee paid to the agent came only fifth on the list of most important decision making factors for would-be vendors, he said.

Bailes’ departure is the latest of a series of management changes hitting Countrywide - some planned, some unplanned.

Last month we reported that online gossip suggested senior management figures were ‘under threat’ in the organisation. At the time Countrywide’s chief executive Alison Platt told EAT that in order to add “new capability and experience” some senior managers had been informed they may have to apply for their existing jobs.

“We notified those who will be directly impacted by planned changes and consultations are ongoing as we have more roles to fit within the new structure than we have people at risk. There is huge potential and opportunity for those who wish to apply and we anticipate the vast majority of roles in our new structure will be filled by our own talented people, many of whom are excited by the opportunity to move and progress within the Group” Platt told us.

Back in May the managing director of estate agency group, Bob Scarff, and the group commercial director, Nick Dunning, both stepped aside at short notice. 

Then in July a retail guru from Carphone Warehouse, a former Lloyds Banking Group chief and a human resources expert from private healthcare company BUPA were amongst a raft of senior new appointments made by Platt, the ex-British Airways, ex-BUPA high-flier who became Countrywide chief executive late last year. 

  • Glenn Ackroyd

    Hybrid agents... A mix of hi-tech, low cost centralised offices, with quality local experts on the ground. I wish I'd have thought of that 5 years ago :-)

  • icon

    We agree Right Estate Agents have just celebrated our 5th anniversary..Hybrid agents are the future for sales and lettings in the UK!

  • Trevor Mealham

    It doesn't have to be low fee Glenn. Hybrid could be a co broker model using different data structures in addition to the RM feed to allow more offers to be brought to the table.


    The 'shop window' of many agents is used to retain a high street presence so agents need to find other cost effective ways to retain and promote their brand which as we all know is where the internet pays its part. Many agents are already moving to smaller premises in or outside of their town centre locations as higher costs and downward pressure on fees hots up. I can see agents retaining their presence by using offices rather than units with shop windows so we have a hybrid high street and on line model.

  • Rob  Davies

    Always said it - hybrid is the way forward!


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