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Graham Awards


Countrywide boss quits another boardroom to try to save agency

Peter Long, executive chairman of Countrywide, has resigned from another boardroom to focus on saving the troubled estate agency.

Long has chosen to stand down from the board of a global theme-park firm to focus on running Countrywide, and to give more time to his other chairmanship - the huge Royal Mail organisation.

Long is one of three executives running Countrywide, in the absence of a chief executive to replace Alison Platt who resigned almost exactly six months ago.


In a statement to the London Stock Exchange, Long said he was stepping down from his third chairmanship at Parques Reunidos, a company listed on the Spanish stock market which runs theme parks worldwide. 

“After careful consideration of my overall business commitments, I made the decision some time ago to reduce them” says Long, who is 66.

Countrywide’s share price collapse and loss of market share have been well documented in recent years. Its share price has fallen over 60 per cent since the start of 2018 alone, despite Long leading a so-called ’Back To Basics’ programme reinvesting in branches which were cut back under Platt’s leadership.

The Daily Mail this morning says Long’s other main business activity - Royal Mail - faces an investor revolt tomorrow over plans to hand a multi-million-pound pay deal to its new chief executive, Rico Back.

Royal Mail reported a seven per cent fall in letter revenues in the three months to June 24, while UK parcel revenues rose six per cent. 

  • Andrew Ireland

    Raise funds and react defensively by:
    Sell John D Wood brand.
    Sell stake in Right Move if you still have one.
    Consider closing offices that produce a return of less than 7% of turnover (future proof against economic uncertainty).
    Re-brand to walk away from poor current perception of the business or client base will evaporate over night.

    Decide who you are and who and what markets you want to serve.
    What are you doing wrong or right, do others agree?
    Consider radically changing the suite of external to agency services currently offered, i.e. legals insurance etc.
    Extensively gather intelligence on rivals. Decide who's making money and how?

    Short term
    Plan for the late rally in the market this September with a fresh sell-able strategy to future clients that differs from the competition so increasing market share.

    Medium term
    Drive towards hybrid agency using gig economy rationale for recruitment.
    Reduce full time staff.
    Make connections with emergent institutional buy to let partners desperate to find sites, modular build and identify agents capable of professional management.
    Look to strengthen relationships with lenders to seek new market opportunities.

    Whitbread no longer make beer.
    Rolls Royce cars made engines for Spitfires now the Germans make Rolls Royce cars.

    You can change too and will be very successful in the future.

    Andrew Ireland MRICS (former director John D Wood)


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