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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Countrywide redundancies: dozens of sales progression staff may go

Countrywide is declining to comment on speculation that it is making 36 of its sales progression staff redundant.

Estate Agent Today, which received a tip off on the alleged redundancies, put the issue to Countrywide on Monday afternoon: in the intervening time there has been no response to our request for a comment.

In recent months there have been closures and redundancies in Countrywide’s branch network; at least the Stratton Creber, King & Chasemore and Taylors brands have been hit, and possibly many more. In addition, some branches have been put into a sale-and-leaseback programme.

The company, which recently reported a pre-tax loss for 2018 of £251m, has chosen not to go down the route taken by LSL Property Services, Foxtons and other companies in announcing some details of its branch closure programme to the public. 

As a result, rumours continue to circulate about possible additional branch closures and redundancies.

The company’s share price closed yesterday at 3.76p - four years ago, in May 2015, it reached an all-time high of 599p.

Countrywide, in response to previous questions about branch closures, has said in recent weeks: “As a responsible business we must constantly assess our branch footprint, the customers they serve and their profitability. Based on that insight, there will be times when we make the difficult decision to close a branch. Wherever possible, we will seek to redeploy the teams and deliver for our customers from an alternative Countrywide branch.” 

Meanwhile as Countrywide chose not to comment about redundancies, it did choose last evening to announce a new member of its board - Lisa Charles-Jones will be a non-exec director from June 26. 

She was previously a director of Reeds Rains Limited and Your Move having worked for LSL Property Services for 13 years until 2016, including for the last ten years as Group HR Director. 

Commenting on the appointment, Countrywide’s executive chairman Peter Long says: "Lisa brings valuable experience within the property sector and will be the non-executive director employee Engagement Lead within the Countrywide plc board".

  • Grahame Hopper

    It's he poor loyal staff on the ground that need the work and have worked the hardest to build the business.

    Looks like new girl Lisa is going to be busy.

    Commenting on the appointment, Countrywide’s executive chairman Peter Long says: "Lisa brings valuable experience within the property sector and will be the non-executive director employee Engagement Lead within the Countrywide plc board"

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    Unbelievable how they are letting Sales progression staff go, they are the people that keep the sales together! although if they have not got many sales to manage then that could be the reason. Good luck to those being made redundant, good people will always find another job.

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    You're joking. When the sales staff agree a sale it's then passed over to a bunch of non estate agent admin staff who then track milestone events and essentially tick boxes. I know this because I'm involved with a number of transactions being dealt with this way. The sales staff aren't even allowed to call the sales progressors for updates its email only! so getting an update or a sale through to exchange is like pulling teeth. Sales staff should progress their own sales and it should be seen that the sales guys are the ONLY ones actually motivated to get the sales through to completion so they can earn their commissions.

     
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    I agree Marc, I was one of the sales progressors who was made redundant after 17 years. We helped clients throughout the sales process and branches ( who may I add spoke to us on a daily basis to discuss sales and progress). Also with the experience gained of the conveyancing process I was contacted by solicitors to work for them as a legal assistant. We were extremely motivated to get sales through to completion as our salaries/commission was only paid on exchange. Sales progressors allow the branch staff to concentrate on instructions and sales as the legal process has become very complicated and drawn out over the years. Countrywide were a very good employer to me and I was devastated when made redundant. I felt I needed to make comments following Mr P’s comments, I am not sure if it worked differently in different subsidiaries but you cannot tar everyone with the same brush

     
  • Mike Lewis

    Totally agree with "Mr P". There is absolutely no way would I hand over any of my deals to some "sales progresser"....OK I am on the commercial side and we do things differently but it's all estate agency at the end of the day isn't it?

  • Andrew Stanton Estate Agency Insights And Strategies

    First a wave of IT personnel redundancies, then branch closures, now sales progression personnel, very soon even the top executives in their ivory tower will feel the reality that making multi million pound losses is a really stupid idea and decide to exit or be helped on their way.

    If you look at the composition of the board and their lack of industry knowledge, or the sound bites that have been coming out since the departure of Platt from supposedly experienced directors - it is clear that this slow motion car crash could have been minimised 6-months ago.

    A one off - closure of non-profit making offices (a big list) the sale of some of the assets (a smaller list) a one off programme of redundancies - with perhaps franchises being offered to the brave who could make marginal offices profitable if not constrained by ingrained and out dated practices.

    Countrywide - the clue is in the name - maybe it should be less of huge flabby loss making empire sprawling across the country - and cut itself down to size - and become a lean keen selling machine.

    Another major problem it has, is that CW t is top heavy with many middle aged and older personnel - I am not being ageist I am 56, but young blood often helps, because in 10 years - the usual cycle of a successful business these people become the mature advocates whose core values carry companies into profitable times.

    In the mid 1980's when agency exploded in the UK with banks and building societies buying up small independent agents to sell their financial wares, lots of 20 something estate agents joined the industry, and their work, motivation etc powered the movement. Many of these people are now in high places, but estate agency has changed and CW is a classic example of a business being run as though we were back 35 years ago.

  • Barry Bishop

    As per normal it is the poor workers on the shop floor that take the brunt of a management team who are simply not fit for purpose.

    I cant see anyway back for this once great company and if the remaining staff have any self respect or motivation to stay in the industry i would highly recommend they got out now.

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    Awful-get out is my advice

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    The next asset that is being sold according to rumour is its mortgage book and operation. All staff to be made redundant if not taken over and offered self employed terms along the lines of its mortgage intelligence operation.

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