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Countrywide on the slide as share price falls below 200

Countrywide’s share price started the week at below 200 for the first time - about 30 months after it was riding high at over 680.

The Countrywide price ended Friday down 4.70 on the day at 197.50. On March 14 2014, prior to the arrival of new senior management and an extensive reorganisation, it closed at a high of 686.50. 

Last week’s slump in the agency group’s fortunes is thrown into stark relief because the FTSE 100 index rose 35.81 points last Friday alone at 7,013.55 after a strong performance for several days running. The broader FTSE 250 index - of which Countrywide is a constituent company - rose 103.07 during the course of Friday to close at 17,980.18.

On July 28, the day of Countrywide’s most recent half-year report - considered by some analysts to be relatively strong - the agency group’s price closed at 263.20, indicating that since that time the group has lost around 30 per cent of its value.

Estate Agent Today asked Countrywide for any comment on its ongoing share slide. A spokesperson said: "Countrywide's Q3 results will be made public in November 2016. We cannot share any information before this but will update you as soon as we can."

A series of senior management departures, the launch of an online agency option for vendors across three brands - now being extended to around a third of Countrywide agency branches - and last month’s exclusive by Estate Agent Today listing the closure of around 60 offices have all fuelled industry debate about the company.

Those initiatives followed the high-profile arrival of chief executive Alison Platt and extensive management and divisional reorganisation with the aim - in the words of one Countrywide statement last year - “[of] leveraging our combined sales and lettings offering through one cohesive retail team.”

The Countrywide group employs some 11,300 people across the UK in around 1,450 offices carrying over 45 brands. In 2015 it enjoyed a net income of over £41m.

The former chief executive of Countrywide, Harry Hill, has made clear his concern at the direction and likely success of his successors running the group which - until now at least - accounted for around 10 per cent of sales in the UK residential market. 

Earlier this month he tweeted that on the basis of his observation of For Sale boards in London, the company was facing "market share disaster".

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    Two words, one of which is crucial: 'retail' 'expert'.

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    Countrywide is today's replica of the Prudential fiasco under Jo Bradley In the late 80's. Will these big organisations never learn - we are in a people business - get rid of the people get rid of the business!

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    How much longer are shareholders going to indulge Ms Platts ridiculous notion to reinvent the wheel?

    They have pretty much lost all senior management with estate agency experience.

    They are closing offices.

    They are micro-managing staff.

    Staff turnover is higher than normal (thats saying something!)

    They are trying to keep a foot in both camps, High Street and online and as such failing miserably.

    And because of this share price has slide almost 2/3rds since she came on board. Lets remind ourselves its only been under 3 years!

    As an ex-countrywide member. I would urge shareholders to demand a change in leadership / direction ASAP before its too late.

    As a high street competitor of Countrywide, i hope she stays in the post and continues in the direction she is taking Countrywide as she is making my company better by the day!

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    FYI - I know companies need to change with the times but Countrywide is abandoning everything they have built a successful company on basically starting again.

    It only needed shaping not complete destruction and rebuild.

    Especially as the rebuild is so out of kilt with what is needed from the public or "Customers" as countrywide would now call them.

     
    Rob  Davies

    Spot on, Smile Please. There's changing with the times, and then there's changing with the times. If it ain't broke, don't fix it has never rung truer. I can't see what they're gaining from all this. No-one seems to think it's a very good idea, other than Platt and her cohorts.

     
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    maybe a good idea to buy shares then, then sell once they go up again.......just a thought :-)

  • Algarve  Investor
  • Rob  Davies

    "Retail, retail, retail."

    "But it doesn't work, Alison. The share price shows that, all the senior management jumping ship shows that."

    "Retail, retail, retail. That's where it's at!"

    CW have been heading down the wrong path for a long while now. How long until Platt realises that? All the CW bigwigs who have resigned in the last year or so are all saying the same thing. But are they being listened to? Of course they're not.

    Very dangerous course of direction for CW, but it may take something catastrophic for them to change their ways.

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    Time to split up this behemoth. There are no economies of scale if you have over 45 brands all doing basically the same thing. Who do they think they are? Proctor & Gamble?
    Choose their two or three best brands by geographical region and get rid of all the other names, or sell them off.

  • David OConnor

    The whole sector is currently involved in an attempt to turn the industry into a commodity business when it is on the whole a people business. It is important that business that offer service do not chase the fees to the bottom. Within a few years many those that offer selling for £500 or 5% management fees will go out of business as at that level you cannot make a profit on the service offered or pay decent salaries to get good staff.
    Some will say it is in the cross selling; that can help but is not in the industry interest in the long run as they way some agencies bully customers to get mortgage etc. does not sit well with customers and is not really legal.
    So lets stop the industry drive to reduce costs as this is a service industry and good service costs. Give it a few years and most low cost models was be out of busy but while that happens the industry is in for a difficult ride.

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    Sorry to use this space for my comment. Please give me your honest comment. I am about to open a new agency, all based on customer service throughout the transaction. Not high street but a local office for customers, a very strong brand and concept and usp to local agents but our fees will not be basement. Do you think that opening now is sensible it when indeed is sensible?? All I know is CW haart Connell all keep going in the town but no one ever recommends any of the agents.

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    @Pete Jones. There is also space for a brilliant estate agent, although not sure if you are already questioning the idea if it is the right time for you as an individual. A sign of a brilliant agent is those can weather varying markets. Wishing you the best.

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