Former Countrywide employees who take to social media or the mainstream press to criticise the company are betraying those who remained loyal to the firm - and may have an ulterior motive anyway.
That is the view of Countrywide’s group managing director Paul Creffield, who was responding specifically to sharp comments about the company made in recent days by its former chief executive and veteran property industry figure Harry Hill.
On Twitter, Hill made reference to a Sunday Times article which criticised Countrywide’s current chairman Peter Long.
Hill tweeted: “The fact that P Long (Sun Times today) is still in place at Cwd plc simply proves how inept his board (and major investors) are. Sadly the business is beyond salvation.”
This was just the latest of several tweets on the subject by Hill over the past three years, mostly critical of Countrywide’s performance. During the same time he has become non-exec deputy chairman of Hunters and has praised Purplebricks, commenting on the departure of the Bruce brothers from the troubled agency: “You boys certainly lobbed a rock into the estate agency pond and many people will be intrigued to see your next ‘target’.”
But Creffield, in an interview with Estate Agent Today, hit out at the firm’s critics.
“It’s in their nature to do this sort of thing. It’s worth remembering that one of the critics is deputy chairman of a small competitor and it’s many, many years since he’s been here [at Countrywide.]”
Referring to articles in the trade and mainstream press which have quoted former Countrywide employees - many of them anonymously - Creffield says: “It’s not very nice for the many people working at Countrywide … perhaps thousands actually … who’ve stayed with the company or returned to the company.”
Last weekend’s Sunday Times piece was particularly critical of Countrywide’s current senior management but Creffield made a strident defence of his work and that of Peter Long, especially since the launch of the Back To Basics turnaround programme in spring 2018.
“Peter and myself gave commitments to the business that we’ll stay with it until things get fixed” says Creffield, who says the outlook is now the brightest it has been for some years.
Earlier this week a trading statement from the agency group revealed that it had cut losses back to £37.7m for the six months to June 30, from £206.4m losses a year earlier, and had secured a new debt deal with its lenders for the next two years.