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Countrywide: former chief executive warns of 'market share disaster'

The former chief executive of Countrywide, Harry Hill, has tweeted that on a four mile walk encountering hundreds of estate agents’ boards he saw only one from a Countrywide brand - a fact he has described as a “market share disaster.”

Hill - one of the industry’s legendary figures who also launched Rightmove and was instrumental in the starting of the former Ombudsman for Estate Agents - wrote on Twitter on Monday evening: “Walked for four miles through S W London today and saw hundreds of agents boards, one of which was a Countrywide brand. Market share disaster!”

Hill has a relatively modest following on Twitter, of just under 1,600, but many are long-standing industry figures and opinion formers. 

In response to a query on the social media service from one of his followers, Hill continued by tweeting, in relation to Countrywide’s current chief executive Alison Platt: “Well I wish her and a fast diminishing team well, but the share price suggest that some City professionals have their doubts.” 

In response to another follower, Hill wrote: “Wandering the streets was always a decent way to get a real feel for market share!”

In recent weeks the ongoing revolution of high-profile senior management departures, branch closure plans and an increasingly retail-led approach of the current Countrywide leaders has continued apace.

On Monday we reported the latest changes in the London management structure of the group, while earlier this month we revealed its proposals to shut 59 branches across the country. At around the same time it was announced that there was to be a consolidation of the group’s brands in London with more focus on one, John D Wood.

In March 2014 the share price of Countrywide - which at the time was reported as selling around one in 10 of all residential properties in Britain - was around 685.0p. Today it is around 216.0p. 

Still on Twitter on Monday, Harry Hill went on to criticise the spate of new high-end luxury apartment building in areas of central London.

“Simply thousands and thousands of new flats being built between the Thames at Nine Elms and North Clapham. Who on earth is going to buy them?” he tweeted, later adding that they may not contribute to solving London’s housing problems “if the capital values are miles beyond the ability of normal working families to afford and service the debt.”

  • Terence Dicks

    I expect the shareholders are extremely pleased at having 2/3 wiped off their investment. A cautionary tale methinks.

  • Jon  Tarrey

    "The former chief executive of Countrywide, Harry Hill, has tweeted that on a four mile walk encountering hundreds of estate agents’ boards he saw only one from a Countrywide brand - a fact he has described as a “market share disaster.”

    Ouch. Countrywide aren't having a great time at the moment, are they? Too many changes, too much upheaval, too much fuss.

  • icon

    Isn't Harry Hill a comedian? Sorry!
    But seriously, Alison Platt is treating Countrywide as a purely retail operation. I remember in the mid 80's when insurance companies and building society's piled into estate agency. Abbey National spent about £800m building up Cornerstone only to get rid of it at a giveaway price. They too thought that pretty boys and girls would make good shop assistants.

    Jon  Tarrey

    I thought the same thing when I first saw the piece. I'm ashamed to say I didn't know who the other Harry Hill was, despite taking a fair old interest in the world of property. Given he helped launch Rightmove and is a key industry figure, perhaps I should do.

    The other Harry Hill, the comedian and TV personality who is actually a doctor called Matthew Hall, hasn't been doing much work recently, so maybe he could be brought on board for a "Countrywide goes Retail" advert.

    I'm sure Platt would tell you she knows what she's doing, but she might like to take a bit of advice from all these ex-Countrywide bigwigs who are telling her she is going down the wrong path. Maybe she's a visionary, maybe she's just too stubborn. We shall see. Things ain't looking too rosy at the moment, however.

     
  • icon

    well with staff leaving left right and centre at almost a daily rate CW will have no one left, so no wonder the market share they had is fast disapearing

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