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Connells in new ZPG deal as portal boss says more acquisitions to come

ZPG has announced that Connells is the latest major agency chain to sign a long-term deal with its portals Zoopla and PrimeLocation.

As part of the new agreement, Connells, which operates almost 600 estate agency and lettings agent branches across the UK, will continue to advertise all of its property listings on the ZPG platform.

“We have worked closely with ZPG for a number of years and our customers benefit greatly from the marketing exposure that our relationship with ZPG generates. We are happy to be extending this relationship as we continue to focus on serving our clients’ best interests and enhancing the digital opportunities for our business” explains David Livesey, group chief executive of Connells.

Last month ZPG signed Countrywide and its 1,000 branches for a further three years from 2018.

There had been speculation that OnTheMarket was going to name major agency operators signing up to its portal ahead of its float on the London Stock Exchange, which is expected to happen in the next few months.

Meanwhile, ZPG chief executive Alex Chesterman has gone public with the philosophy behind the expansion of his company in recent years. 

Five years ago 100 per cent of Zoopla’s business involved marketing properties on its portals but now that sector accounts for 25 per cent, he says.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph Chesterman says the company that is now ZPG, and which has diversified to include a wide range of software and back-office agency activity as well as utility switching services is stronger than it has ever been.  

“No one area of our business accounts for more than 20 per cent, for example, and no one customer accounts for one per cent. There’s less that can go wrong” he tells the newspaper. 

Chesterman is also quoted as saying that in terms of acquisitions, ZPG is “not done” - despite taking over Hometrack, Expert Agent, Property Software Group, TechnicWeb, Ravensworth and others in recent times.

In the article Chesterman says ZPG’s expansion over the past decade has been part and parcel of solving what he calls ‘pain points’. “If you go back 20 years looking for a property meant visiting 12 high street branches or looking at newspapers. That pain point has been completely solved by putting them all under one roof with all the associated data.” 

The piece says Chesterman’s philosophy is that ZPG, despite being worth almost £2 billion, employing 1,000 people and being a decade old, “still acts and thinks of itself as a start-up, nimble on its feet.” 

However, it says Chesterman - whose ZPG empire includes utility switch platform uSwitch - is unhappy at proposals by Labour seeking the renationalisation of parts of the energy industry. It’s “not great for a business like ours that is championing competition and the lowest prices for consumers ... a lot of talk like that makes a good political sound bite but the outcome is not good for consumers” he warns.

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