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Top online agency reveals £17.8m loss - can online ever be profitable?

A £17.8m pre-tax loss has been reported by Yopa in its latest financial statement filed at Companies House.

Figures lodged just before Christmas - and applying to the calendar year ending December 31 2019 - show that revenue rose 22 per cent from £6,857,065 in full year 2018 to £8,350,750 in 2019.

That pre-tax loss of £17,821,077 for 2019 was an improvement on the 2018 figure which was a loss of £30,365,369.  In 2017 the losses were £18,332,269.

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Gross profit rose from £2,684,809 in 2018 to £3,596,351 last year.

A statement accompanying the figures, from Yopa chairman Grenville Turner - the former Countrywide group chief executive who joined the agency in mid-2018 - says 2019 was a year of “strategic change and continued investment for the business.”

He goes on: “The company solidified its product offerings with new pricing bundles and the re-introduction of a deferred payment product ‘Pay Later’ in the year.” 

Investment during 2019 included a new financial services off-shoot, increasing the scale of its call centre, and a rebranding exercise.

And although the figures refer solely to 2019, Grenville’s statement makes a reference to this year, claiming unspecified “record revenues, market share and KPI results” since the end of the spring 2020 lockdown.

The past three years’ combined pre-tax losses for Yopa have now exceeded £66m.

Savills’ investment arm and LSL Property Services are investors in the agency, which during 2019 - the year to which these latest figures relate - raised £16m through an equity issue from all its existing investors with the exception of LSL.

Just over a year ago, when Yopa filed its figures for 2018, it predicted it would “see a significantly improved financial performance in the second half of 2019 and more fully in 2020”.

  • adrian black

    key numbers are the £3.6m gross profit and £9.4m cash reserves - can the ship steer a course with these resources and how much can central costs be cut and still drive gross profit improvement ?

  • icon

    The revenue figure looks quite impressive, but every other figure is gut wrenchenly awful. I'm very glad I'm ploughing away at what I know and not what might be. 2021 might prove me wrong - but the natural move in a storm is to head for harbour and safety.

  • Laura Johnstone

    What is astounding is the millions of pounds companies can raise for businesses that do not have positive customer experience. It is not that online agency’s cannot work they are just so badly run and given with unmemorable names.

  • icon

    If they can’t make a profit with a turnover of over £8 million then they never will unless they cut drastically the expensive management costs. All new large companies in Estate Agency can’t understand that the business is all about fee earners not expensive management.

  • Murray Lee

    How can they run a business loosing £mmms pa. ? Mind you wha sort of service can they offer compared to us Pros?

  • Andrew Hall

    As they say, turnover is vanity, profit is reality, cash is king! The saturated market of 'online' models plugging a pathetically low fee structure here in UK means that it's just a volume game. What true professional is going to give head, heart and soul to a vendor for a few hundred quid reward. The vendors are the biggest losers as they have been conditioned to think low fees are the key to a great sale price. Warped logic.

  • Glenn Taylor

    I could never understand when vendors selected the cheapest fee then sold for 20 grand less than they should of because they had no guidance and no interest.
    Everything to make a profit, greed and ignorance combined.

  • Hybrid Agent

    The 'Big Hybrid' model, not 'online' agents as incorrectly termed, is supposed to be high volume low cost local method of estate agency using tech and processes that allow for each local agent to comfortably deal with 20-30 instructions /sales per month, and give a suitable service, this was the original concept. No one has had a playbook for operating this kind of model and a lot of the moves made are conceived by execs that look at these operations as either traditional estate agencies or internet companies, neither approach fits with the original concept. Businesses can make profit with this model but as mentioned in another comment have too many management layers, failed costly marketing ventures and a lack of understanding from those in charge as to how this type of product actually works, hampering their performance. If you can bring in £1m p.a in fees in 14 postcodes for a few years with very low local costs then the business model is not the problem, its what the umbrella business does with that £1m that's the problem...

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