Countrywide’s senior executives have set out reasons why investors should put their money into the group, despite its troubled recent years.
Yesterday Countrywide’s share price closed 12 per cent lower after the release of its trading figures which included a warning on 2019’s likely performance being damaged by Brexit uncertainty in the residential sales market.
But executive chairman Peter Long has now told Estate Agent Today there are solid reasons why the company is worth putting money into - as evidenced, he says, by the low level of churn of existing investors.
“We’re turning the picture around. It’s a three year strategy but even after one year we’re on course with most measures showing genuine progress. Our market share a year ago was about 7.3 per cent and now it’s 7.7 per cent, and we’re still the market leader.
“We’ve got scale which allows us to weather headwinds, like Brexit and the Fees Ban, in a way other companies cannot. And the underlying fundamentals of the housing market are strong once we get clarity - there’s a growing population, people are living longer, there’s a shortage of housing stock meaning demand typically outpaces supply” he adds.
Long accepts that with economic and political uncertainty hurting the housing market and the wider UK economy for the next six months or so, there are reasons why investors are sitting on their hands generally - not just for Countrywide or property-sector quoted firms - but he adds: “We’re fixing the problems we had. We’re a good long term bet.”
In yesterday’s figures, Countrywide revealed its losses widened during 2018 and both revenue and profit dipped significantly; it lost £218m, a 5.5 per cent increase on 2017’s losses of £207m.
Revenues dropped seven per cent including by nine per cent in sales and lettings, while profit halved from £65.5m in 2017 to £32.6m last year.
But the Back To Basics programme is showing signs of success, the firm insists: its skills base has improved with 300 returning employees, there had been a nine per cent rise in listed properties for sale or rent, plus a five per cent boost in sales ready to complete, in addition to its improved market share.