Yet another one of the giants of our industry, Hunters, says it’s taking “appropriate measures” to safeguard the firm in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak.
In a statement to shareholders late yesterday the firm - which has 200 branches and which earlier this year claimed it was not the third largest agency chain in the country - did not specify the measures it would take but admitted the virus would lead to “a material adverse impact on our performance in 2020.”
The scale of the damage is too early to estimate, says Hunters, but “in the short term we expect that revenues from residential sales will be most affected, which represented approximately 25 per cent of revenues in 2019.”
It says franchise and lettings revenues to be more robust - together they represent two thirds of the group’s income.
In response to recent guidance from the Financial Conduct Authority and London Stock Exchange, Hunters has delayed the publication of its preliminary results, previously expected on Thursday.
The Annual General Meeting will also be delayed.
In a trading statement in January the group had reported a strong finish to 2019, and now it says this carried through to the early (pre-virus) part of 2020, with instructions and gross sales across the network up eight and 17 per cent respectively.
Hunters chairman Kevin Hollinrake, who is also Tory MP for Thirsk and Malton, tweeted recently about the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan which his government has created. He wrote on Twitter: “No personal guarantees, no fees, 0 per cent interest for 12m, up to £5m. Our business will certainly use this.”