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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Countrywide: who will be the next leader of ailing company?

The hunt is on for a new boss of Countrywide according to news reports.

Sky News says the company has recruited professional headhunters to replace Paul Creffield, the chief executive, and will involve current executive chairman Peter Long standing down this autumn as well.

The expected departures of Long and Creffield follow a series of high profile controversies.

This year alone the firm has seen the high profile collapse of its proposed sale of its commercial arm, Lambert Smith Hampton, and the failure of merger talks with LSL Property Services which would have led to the creation of the UK’s largest agency group.

In March it was revealed that Bruce Marsh, who was to become Countrywide's chief operating officer, was not going to join the agency group after all.

In 2019 two of the company’s biggest crises involved compliance.

It received a £100,000 fine by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors for two breaches of RICS guidelines regarding the handling of unclaimed clients’ funds by its lettings division.

It was also fined £215,000 by HM Revenue & Customs as part of a swoop cracking down on money laundering in the property sector. 

Almost two years ago Countrywide hit the headlines when a proposed bonus bundle would have given Long stock worth well over £6m under a company scheme called Absolute Growth Plan. Creffield would have received shares valued at more than £8m.

These and other mishaps prompted an investment manager who has a 7.8 per cent stake in Countrywide, to warn earlier this month that the agency may not survive in its current form.

Jeremy Hosking, who co-founded an investment portfolio management service and has a personal fortune estimated at £385m, told Countrywide that it should gift 15 per cent of the company’s shares to staff - roughly the equivalent of £600 each - to give them a stake in its future and confidence they would share in any performance improvement.

In response to the news that a successor was being sought to Peter Long, Countrywide's founder - veteran agent Harry Hill - commented on Property Industry Eye: "I don’t know Mr Long. What I do know is that he has been obscenely well paid to oversee the almost total destruction of a once great business and together with the other members of the board, should hang his head in shame. Good luck to his successor as I fear that the downward spiral is incapable of being arrested."

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    Another highly biased fake news headline by Mr Norwood which no doubt will be supported by the doom and gloom army on here still convinced this company will be bust by autumn.

    Very positive move by the group looking to appoint a new CEO.

    Algarve  Investor

    You seem to have missed the first part of the article, which laid out in pretty clear detail why the company is in crisis. Not only did a major merger deal fail and the company's new chief operating officer fail to take up his post, they were also investigated and faced two significant fines from RICS and HMRC. That doesn't strike me as a company in rude health, does it?

    Add on to that the drastically falling share prices, the boardroom fallouts and the numerous high-profile departures of recent years, and it's clear all is not well on the Countrywide ship. The Platt reign was disastrous, but the recovery has been just as plodding, bumbling and incompetent. A once great brand is certainly now tarnished, and it's not fake news to label an ailing company as ailing.

    Maybe you would like to outline why they're not ailing? And who said they're going to be bust by autumn? Oh, you've just made that up, right?

     
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    The next CEO wont be an estate agent or salesmen. They will need to be a restructure expert. The premium parts of LSH and Hamptons will need to be separated off and the rest could be rebranded under the same name perhaps John D Wood. Also the lettings only business like Finders Keepers could be bundled up together and sold off for working capital. Simply put in these days you do not need a business as diverse as countrwide and simplification could save it.

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    I do not agree. Diversity is key these days and it is just a badly run company with poor leadership. It never recovered form the Platt days. I do agree however that commercial is not a necessity but lettings/top brands in EA /FS/new Homes/land etc are.

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    Maybe an agent that has worked in the business day to day would be a good idea rather than some one that has never worked within the industry, and simple diversity is key and does not need to be rocket science.

  • adrian black

    large debts, long lease liabilities, little understanding of technology, low motivation and economic storm, its a tough gig with such a low market cap

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