Connells Group has announced its trading statement for the first half of 2020 - and its support for its staff is the biggest headline.
It furloughed most staff during the lockdown but topped up the taxpayers’ Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme payments to ensure they were paid 100 per cent of the basic and commission from March to July inclusive.
The company says all 600 High Street branches are now open and staff being returned from furlough as business returns.
Connells Group chief executive David Livesey says in the statement, released last evening: “Whilst some estate agents have been slow to reopen, some remain closed possibly never to reopen and with others reviewing their operating model, our own business has been responsive to the challenge.”
“The majority of our management team have been with us for many years, with exposure to all types of markets in the past, but this unexpected public health crisis is incomparable to anything else we’ve ever experienced” he continues.
“Through swift and decisive action and the implementation of mitigating and cost saving measures, our business has navigated itself effectively through the crisis and is well positioned for the future” Livesey adds.
“We prioritise people at all times – be it our colleagues, customers, suppliers – ensuring their health, safety and wellbeing, minimising impact on them and delivering continuity of service.”
But the group has paid a price for this, with a drop in pre-tax profits for the first half of this year to £17.2m, down from £26.2m in H1 2019.
Its exchanges are down by 29 per cent over the same period of this year, but since the housing market reopened Connells says new applicant registrations and mortgage appointments have jumped 37 and 56 per cent respectively, and sales agreed are up 33 per cent.
In its trading figures for 2019, released back in February, Connells Group made pre-tax profits of £50.1m - down only slightly from the year before, despite the housing market in 2019 being mired in Brexit uncertainty.
Total revenue for 2019 was £426.4m - almost unchanged from 2018.
Connells, which is owned by Skipton Building Society, also claimed that its 5.5 per cent market share in 2019 was the largest of any UK estate agency.