Countrywide has released details of its trading performance, including the knock its income has received as a result of the housing market lockdown.
Although the company - which has its annual general meeting today - describes its performance over the past year as “resilient” the figures reveal that group income was £142.5m, down from £200m for the comparable period a year ago.
“The year-on-year decline reflecting the closure of all branches on 23 March 2020, in accordance with the Government's lockdown guidance” it says.
It gives its key figures as:
- At June 26, 70 per cent of branches have been risk assessed, certified COVID-secure, opened and with all meetings pre-arranged by appointment only;
- May year-to-date instructions are back to 60 per cent of 2019 levels with last week running at 94 per cent of 2019 levels and 86 per cent of the average in the first 12 weeks of the year and pre-lockdown;
- Exchanges are back to 71 per cent of 2019 levels with the last week at 64 per cent of 2019 and 85 per cent of the average in the 12 weeks of the year and pre-lockdown;
- The closing pipeline of £47 million is down 12 per cent year-on-year;
- Demand for let properties continues, with the number of applicants per week three per cent higher than the pre-lockdown average and 88 per cent of 2019 levels;
- The lettings register is at 93 per cent of 2019 levels and 20 per cent higher than the average pre-lockdown.
The company also makes the general statement: "The Group continues to explore the availability of funding to large businesses under the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme" without giving any details.
Unusually, there is no quote from a senior figure from the company, although this morning's statement says the outlook for the company remains uncertain because of the unpredictable impact of Coronavirus.
However, the company'\s embarrassing failure to complete a deal to sell its commercial arm, Lambert Smith Hampton, is also mentioned in today's statement.
It says: "Following exchange of contracts and shareholder approval, the buyer, Mr John Bengt Moeller, failed to complete the transaction. The Group has terminated the sale with Mr Moeller and is pursuing him for damages and costs. Meanwhile, the Group is continuing discussions with another interested purchaser that actively expressed an interest in LSH during the delayed completion period."
LSH itself lost 13 per cent of its income for the five months to May 2020; today's statement offers no explanation as to whether the due diligence process was at fault during the negotiations with the buyer who withdrew.