The Countrywide chief executive, Alison Platt, is said to have warned staff that the reaction from the markets and shareholders to the company’s recent financial performance is likely to be “challenging”.
Estate Agent Today understands that a message sent to staff on Thursday - which was branded as confidential and not to be forwarded - explained that in a year which was already regarded as tough, the performance in the final quarter in particular was below expectations.
Platt is believed to have added: “The end result therefore is not what we had planned and rightly I expect the reaction from our shareholders and the wider market to be challenging.”
Countrywide’s share price plummeted on Thursday, closing 18.64 per cent down; on Friday the price closed down around another one per cent having previously hit 104.20p - by some margin the lowest ever for the company.
Platt’s confidential note to staff, which was accompanied by a summary of the trading statement issued that day to the City, is believed to have gone on to say that all the company’s actions in recent months had been aimed at regaining share, returning to a stronger sales and lettings network “and back to winning.”
The note - believed to conclude with the words “Thank you for your continued support” - also says that through delivering the company’s plans, Countrywide would demonstrate progress and a return to good health and profitable growth.
In its trading statement late last week the firm said its total income in the sales and lettings business for the full 2017 year was expected to be circa £360m, down 14 per cent on 2016, “reflecting a disappointing fourth quarter performance.”
Total Countrywide group income for the full year - including non-agency activity such as financial services - was expected to be circa £672m (2016: £737m), with quarter four income of circa £164m (2016: £179m).
Income in the UK business was expected to be circa £205m, down 17 per cent year on year, and in London was expected to be circa £155m, down 10 per cent.