Countrywide’s controversial hybrid estate agency business has produced “fantastic results” according to Sam Tyrer, the group’s Managing Director, Retail & London.
In an exclusive interview with Nat Daniels, publisher of Estate Agent Today, Tyrer says her task has been to help Countrywide pursue “a bold strategy that gives us greater resilience to navigate the current and foreseeable market.”
Tyrer’s comments come on the day that Countrywide revealed that its volume of house sales in London in the final quarter of 2016 continued to be below 2015 - around six per cent below. But as with many agents, it says its lettings business has helped keep its overall performance relatively healthy.
Group income for the fourth quarter was £179m, down from £196m in the same period of 2015. It anticipates that its full year income will be as predicted at some £737m.
In her conversation with EAT, Tyrer says the biggest success has been the launch of what is known within Countrywide as the ‘multi-channel pilot’, which includes digital services to customers such as online sales and link-ups with digital service providers such as Fixflo.
This pilot began last spring when three Countrywide brands - Spencers in the Leicestershire and Rutland area, Austin & Wyatt in Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire, and Frank Innes across the East Midlands - offered a range of services to vendors, extending from hybrid-style online advertising to full-service traditional agency.
In the interview with Daniels - which you can see here - Tyrer says the pilot was “seeing fantastic results”.
“We’re delighted with the results of the multichannel pilot, which has been live now for six months. We have seen strong results across the key metrics and we are rolling the proposition out across our UK brands” she adds.
Tyrer says Countrywide’s other achievements in recent months have included completing the group’s largest-ever investment in what she calls “colleague training” as well as bringing the sales and lettings businesses closer together.
“Getting really focused on our customers has also paid off as is shown by our growth in market share of listings and exchanges for both sales and lettings” she says.
The full interview also touches upon some of the key issues surrounding Countrywide in recent months including branch closures, investment in PropTech initiatives, and what the term ‘retail’ means in the context of estate and letting agencies.
Check out the full interview here.
Meanwhile Alison Platt, chief executive of Countrywide, told shareholders this morning - in a statement accompanying its Q4 2016 figures - that the group’s Retail and London divisions were impacted by the lower market volumes, offset partially by improved lettings performance.
“It is encouraging to note that both Financial Services and Surveying reported profit growth notwithstanding the external environment. We continue to focus on delivering cost and productivity efficiencies across our business which will mitigate the impact of a 2017 sales market which is expected to show a reduction on 2016 volumes” says Platt.
And she confirmed a story in some of the property press towards the end of last year that there would be “a strategic review” of Countrywide’s commercial arm, Lambert Smith Hampton - widely expected to lead to its sale.