Countrywide’s share price, which just over three years ago was riding high at just above 685p, has hit a new low of 150p.
During rollercoaster trading yesterday it opened at 155p but soon fell to exactly 150p; it rallied slightly in later trading but then fell again, this time to below 148p. It ended the day at 153.01p.
Around four years ago Countrywide, then regarded as being behind around one in 10 residential sales in the country, broke through the 400p share price; within 12 months, on March 14 2014, shares traded at a high of 686.50.
By the time Alison Platt became chief executive of the Countrywide group, on September 1 2014, the share price was already sliding and sat at around 510p. In the early months of her tenure they rallied to very nearly 600p in May 2015 but the fall in the past two years has been striking.
A trading statement for the group’s 2016 activities last month confirmed it had lost 200 branches in its high-profile reorganisation - that's around 20 per cent of its branch network. Its pre-tax profit has plummeted from £47.7m in 2015 to £19.5m last year.
The group also revealed that in 2016 it spent over £8.1m on redundancies, some £7.4m on contract costs relating to closed premises, and over £2m on redesigning marketing and associated costs linked to launching its online offering to sellers and landlords.
Swiss bank UBS also warned last month that “while digital roll out is clearly the focus of the growth strategy for Countrywide, we remain unclear as to the ability of this proposition to generate organic growth given the fixed fee of £995 versus average retail fee of £2,520.”
A separate UBS report, also released last month, reported that Countrywide many brands had between them a 4.5 per cent share of all UK properties marked ‘sold subject to contract’ - but that Purplebricks was rising fast, on 3.3 per cent.