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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Countrywide claims "excellent results" from hybrid agency pilot

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.

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    In the meantime, Countrywide employees appear to be scrambling to get out of the company as fast as they can.

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    I work for Countrywide and have worked in the business for 30+ years. They are in total disarray, never has staff morale been so low. It is clear the board are out of their depth and have lost the colleagues with the knowledge and expertise to get them out of this downward spiral.

     
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    It was such a raging success they cut bonuses to celebrate.

    Surely Platt and Co have no longer than Another quarter to get results. The board have to be considering a vote of confidence on her leadership.

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    what bonuses??? us minions never get any such thing from CW, you can't mean the fat cats cutting their bonuses, can't see them doing that

    i agree though there has to be a time when the board will have to sit back and take note of whats going on a realise platt is not the answer, like ann robinson would say, 'alison you are the weakest link.....GOODBYE!!!!'

     
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    there should be a vote of no confidence of those that made the appointment in the first place.

     
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    It was such a raging success they cut bonuses to celebrate.

    Surely Platt and Co have no longer than Another quarter to get results. The board have to be considering a vote of confidence on her leadership.

  • Ben Hollis

    Another big step toward full automation.

  • ken hume

    Corporate agents become more faceless by the week, this is just another big brand hiding branch closures behind a facade of another boring online revolution story.

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    yes Countrywide certainly hid the latest branch closures and failed to mention anything about the week to ten days notice before Christmas (yes a lovely present from cw) that you wont have a office in the new year, or for the lucky ones we have another office for you but its further away and no we won't help you with the extra cost of the commute as its deemed to be a reasonable distance from your current place of work. the reason for this is because they knew if they put people just that little bit further away from home within a few weeks if the new year those said people would hand their notice in thus saving the company a few thousand pounds in redundancy money......i wouldn't be surprised if there be further branch closures come the end of the first 1/4 this year.

  • David Thomas

    They claim excellent results!! They effectively lowered their sales offering in panic to compete with Purplebricks so now what? How do you go back and now justify your worth more without adding value.
    The high street agents are getting taken to pieces because of silly competitive decisions. Don't drop you prices instead look at how you can add more value to your offering and provide a better service to your clients.

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    The company is flouting Employment Law throughout it's organisation. Unreasonable hours, changing terms and conditions without consulting. Preying on their staff's insecurities and acting consistently in constructive methods of forcing people out of their business. Dramatically reducing market share, no clear plan, demoralised and over-reached middle management, unskilled in their roles and hanging onto dear-life trying to deliver objectives that change daily, all in an environment of IT illiteracy and senior management trying to work out why 'Building their future' looks more like a demolition site rather than an organisation to be proud of! Can anyone calculate how many sales at £995 it would take to pay Alison's and Sam's wages. Don't let Countrywide's Finance team work it out, they don't have any batteries in their calculators, and seem to have budgeted again without putting a provision in for staff commission's. This is really, really, really sad! If they want to survive and grow - give the mandate back to the Regional Managers, buy back your IT, and send the HMV failures back to the one-dimensional arenas they failed in previously

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    It makes absaloutle sense to be seen as a "Hybrid" agent to compete with all the online agents, good or bad they are taking some market share in a time when each year sees less people moving.

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    I' sorry but I do not think it makes sense at all if the perception of the public is that it is the same company doing it cheap. All that happens is that it makes gaining a decent fee even more difficult if and when the opportunity arises. A quality lister may be able to differentiate in his presentation however; I don't think many remain at CWD and those that do unlikely to much longer if they can help it..

     
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    Alison Platt is this you under an alias??

     
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    What a load of 'tosh'. Only last week in a 'conference call' one of their retail directors said that the 'Iella' or whatever super code name they gave it, needed to be re-launched, as it was not going as they would like. Really? No leadership from people who know what they're doing, no enthusiasm from staff, no belief and most of their time looking for a decent employer! Propaganda that Heir Goebbels would be proud of!!!!! Another in the catalogue of laughable PR releases. Catalogue getting to be a volume!

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    One last thing; 'strategic review' of commercial arm means definite sale as the banks are feeling very vulnerable about the debt obligation and they need to see it reduced if the current 'clowns' running the job continue in their course of destruction and it has to be broken up and sold. Shippo and Livesey have the £1 ready for the branches and brands they fancy to augment Connells Group I'll wager! LSH was once part of Connells also as I recall!

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    Sorry, last thing promise; it seems that the market might becoming used to the nonsense spouted also? does 175.5 qualify as a rally does anyone think or correct value to those aware of what's going on?

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    Further to my previous comment please allow me to finish, the only question in relation to the "Hybrid" propersition is why on earth is it not fully operational throughout the company by now? And why are the people responable for this debacle still working for the company oh that's right because they reside in the same clueless world as the senior management team where no matter what is really happening everything is "brilliant" or "amazing". Everyone who has worked at countrywide for any period of time will tell you that staff moral has never ever been as low as the last year or so and then to the remove or reduce the end of year profit commission away days before the end of year no doubt to make the company appear more profitable is a disgrace! Something that has literally never happened before in the company but no doubt this was a "brilliant" and "amazing" thing to happen to the staff in question. For the fortunate uninitiated of you if you walked into the experience of "colleague training" you would think you had walked into an American style cult in full flow. The regional management team have yet again been put through their annual culling or "building our future" as Alison and her companions call it and the embattled survivors are on theirs knees and like the rest of the staff have no faith in any of the people at the top who quite clearly do not understand the business or how it needs to evolve, not that they or anyone else is allowed to voice an opinion any more as if the vocabulary you use does not match the company's religious sound bites you will be invited to a meeting where you will be leaving you car keys on your way out whilst being told how "amazing" and "brilliant" you were.

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    My apologies MM. It sounds like you were at the 'conference' (brainwash) that I'm informed took place this week in Milton Keynes? The solution to all problems I'm told! You clearly have a view of the shenanigans that is up to date and 'on point'. There was no intention in my comment other than to voice my view of why the 'knee jerk' iella fiasco was being conducted from existing brands. By all means pilot it using a 'virtual' brand so if it doesn't work there is no residual harm to the existing operation. That does however suggest that you haven't knackered the existing brand before you do the experiment which; I fear is happening.

     
  • Fake Agent

    I get the impression that CW are none too popular at the moment. They seem to have become the popular punching bag of the industry. All a bit over-the-top if you ask me, although I understand the concerns, criticisms and grievances. In my opinion, they put their eggs in too many baskets and have been trying to be too many things to too many different people.

    That said, some of the opprobrium on display here isn't really warranted.

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    can't see where you got that impression from (hahaha)

    Have you actually worked for them or work for them, have you spoken to anyone that is going through what countrywide are doing if no then i can't really see your point as being its all abit over the top.
    there are alot of very very unhappy employees at cw at them moment staff moral is at an all time low so no wonder people are venting their feelings when they see reports such as this as some may well see it as it being rubbed in their faces especially if they have been effected by the recent branch closures.

     
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    Come on Sam. If you're going to participate; use your own name!

     
  • Rookie Landlord

    Too many cooks spoil the broth. Too many irons in the fire. Too many fingers in too many pies. All the idioms/proverbs ring true when it comes to Countrywide. Expansion for expansion's sake never works well - just ask Foxtons - and spreading yourself too thinly, trying to be all things to all folk, is an equally doomed approach.

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    The company is a complete joke. They are not going to announce major disappointment. Alison Platt and Sam Tyer has managed to do to Countrywide which two housing resecious didn't. You have people at the top that know nothing about estate agency and all they are doing is employing people from Carphone Warehouse. They have a senior marketing retail director who ran Woolworths and we all know what happened to that company. I worked for Countrywide and when I joined them just over 2 years ago, the company was really good and looked after the staff. Over the last year it has changed and they are closing offices everywhere. I'm so surprised the shareholders have not stopped this rot. I've now left the company and it was the best decision I have made. In one day, up to 8 people handed notices in just in my area. Part of me thinks that Alison Platt is employed by Sequence to do her best to destroy CW. If that is the case, she is doing a great job. Best give her a bonus.

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