Connells Group says investment in PropTech will be the way to safeguard its almost-600 High Street branches - and it’s repeated its belief that the hybrid or online route not a viable option for the company.
The group describes its performance in 2018 as “solid” with pre-tax profits of £56.9m (down from 2017’s £65.7m) against what it calls “a difficult year for the UK housing market and declining transaction volumes.”
However, its lettings income was almost five per cent higher than in 2017 and financial services income rose 10 per cent; the group’s Survey & Valuation operating profit was also four per cent higher.
“2018 was a tough period for the property market with Brexit uncertainty continuing to weigh heavily on customers’ minds and depressed levels of UK housing transactions” says Connells Group CEO David Livesey.
“We remain committed to expanding the group – be it through acquisitions that add value to our business or organic growth – to support our strategy of remaining a market leader in both our core estate agency practice and our successful business to business activities” continues Livesey.
“It has been, and remains, an uncertain time for those operating in the property sector and we pay tribute to the skill and tenacity of our staff, our greatest asset, who have faced the challenges head on to deliver another commendable performance.”
He says investment in PropTech and other innovative technology is helping secure the branch network.
“Connells Group employs over 7,000 people and remains fully committed to its network of nearly 600 high street estate agency branches as demonstrated by the decision to close its online estate agency Hatched last year. This followed the conclusion that the ‘online-only’/hybrid business model does not produce a viable economic result nor give house sellers the best outcome as compared to the group’s full service high street operation.”