Individual franchisees operating under the Winkworth banner are receiving what the company calls “comprehensive help” on a range of issues, including government loan schemes and employment rights.
The company has just issued its full-year 2019 results to shareholders although its successful trading last year has been overshadowed by the Coronavirus crisis gripping the industry and the economy for the past three weeks.
“We have entered a period of considerable uncertainty as measures are taken to defend the UK against the spread of Covid-19. These are having an impact on the business of each and every one of our franchisees and, whilst we have a very robust business model and financial position, it is too early to predict what the full effect will be on activity in the remaining nine months of 2020” warns Winkworth chief executive Dominic Agace.
The trading statement also states: “Since the government's directive on the temporary closing of high street branches came into effect on 24 March 2020, we have undertaken a number of initiatives to help our franchisees through this difficult time.
“Besides cutting non-essential marketing and training courses, and passing on savings to our franchisees, we have provided them with comprehensive help on business topics including remote working, maintaining a dialogue with customers, employment rights and government loan schemes.
“On top of the daily flow of commercial information, our franchisees are providing us with regular updates of their financial health so that we can assess their individual situations and provide support where most needed.”
In common with other agencies and property companies quoted on the London Stock Exchange, Winkworth has modelled a range of ’stress test’ scenarios to assess its liquidity in the current financial year.
“The Board is comfortable that, even under the worst of these, the business has the required financial resources for the foreseeable future” the firm says.
In terms of its 2019 results, Winkworth reports that it saw an eight per cent increase in transactions across the board, increasing its market share both nationally and in London in particular where it ranked second in Sales Subject to Contract with a market share of 4.2 per cent, up from 3.6 per cent in 2018.
Its total transactions in the capital increased two per cent last year while its country offices saw a 15 per cent increase.
The firm’s lettings and management revenues grew despite the tenant fees ban coming into effect last June, with overall lettings income up six per cent on 2018, driven mostly by its out-of-London offices’ lettings and management income growing 16 per cent.
Total gross revenues for the franchised office network rose by four per cent to £48.3m, with sales up by two per cent to £23.8m, and lettings and management six per cent to £24.4m.
London offices accounted for 78 per cent of gross revenues.