Humberts' experiment rejecting branches and promoting a supposedly one-stop-shop for property related services has failed with reports that the firm is likely to be entering administration.
It was 18 months ago that the troubled agency was acquired by Natural Retreats, a firm previously specialising in holiday home lets.
Natural Retreats’ chief executive Matt Spence and the management team he put in place immediately expressed criticism of the traditional and online estate agency models.
In summer 2018 it pledged to “become the first choice for rural landowners and homeowners. Each client will find a service-orientated, high-end ‘one-stop-shop’ for all things land, property and rural.”
At the same time, in a flurry of broad brush press releases lacking specifics, the newly-acquired Humberts company stated that it was “focusing its strategy on the highly coveted chocolate box towns and locations in rural Britain, that people flock to both live and holiday in.”
It closed traditional offices and in July last year opened a so-called hub at Poundbury in Dorset: others promised to be opened shortly afterwards did not materialise.
The 5,000 square foot Poundbury hub was described as “high tech, high touch” but those who visited reported low footfall.
This year it pledged to introduce a concierge-style service for customers who required their properties to be looked after while away, and it adopted the controversial Modern Method of Auction option for customers.
Humberts has not responded to approaches from Estate Agent Today over the weekend; the administration is reported to involve over 40 redundancies.