Winkworth, the franchise giant with most offices concentrated in or close to London, says the high-end of the capital’s prime market is not enjoying the slight recovery seen in the sale of mid and lower priced properties.
And in the company’s annual report it warns: “At the higher end, stamp duty changes are still to be fully absorbed and we anticipate that further price reductions may occur in 2016, weighing on transactions at this level.”
However, it says that the EU referendum has yet to make a significant impact on London’s market and that lower- to mid-priced product has “the potential for a resumption of growth this year.”
Winkworth, which opened two new offices in 2015 and resold eight franchises, had a good 2015 despite the sluggish market in the south east, hit by general election uncertainty.
“We reported broadly flat profitability for the year, increased the total dividend payout by 41% and continued to invest in new, centralised initiatives to drive growth in the medium term” says chief executive Dominic Agace.
“We continued to invest in the rentals side of our business and, in particular, our recently formed Corporate Relocation Department, which generated 4,000 searches for rental property for our landlords in 2015. This success helped to drive revenue growth, with rentals rising by 7% and increasing as a proportion of Winkworth’s total sales from 35% in 2014 to 38% in 2015, a further step towards our goal of rentals accounting for 50% of our business” says Agace.
“New franchisee applications picked up sharply in Q4 2015, with 40 applicants compared to 19 in the same period of 2014. We expect to see the number of new openings pick up with three confirmed for 2016 and a further three in advanced discussions” he says.