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Redundancies, PropTech and furlough cash help Hunters recover

Franchise network Hunters has recorded strong figures for the first half of 2020 but a trading statement reveals the measures it had to take to weather the Coronavirus storm.

Having seen sales plummet 93 per cent in April 2020 against April 2019 - as a result of the market closure during lockdown - the firm’s directors and senior managers took temporary salary reductions of 20 to 50 per cent and cancelled the 2019 final dividend to shareholders.

They also secured “access to various government schemes” without specifying how much, and undertook both redundancies and restructuring.  


“This rightsizing included franchising two of the group owned branches, a strategy we adopted last year and are looking to progress further” explains Hunters chairman Kevin Hollinrake in the trading statement.

As a result the Hunters Group improved EBITDA in the first half year by 30 per cent to £1.44m despite turnover reducing around a fifth to £5.4m.

“Sales took the brunt of the impact of the nationally mandated lockdown period, rebalancing our business for this half year to June at 58 per cent/42 per cent Sales/Lettings” explains Hollinrake, who says the first half of 2019 - by contrast - saw a 64/36 per cent split. 

Since reopening, the income pipeline across the network stands at £16.6m - an increase of 43 per cent.

Hollinrake, who is also a Conservative MP, says technology has also been key to the agency’s success.

“Our swiftly adopted technology strategy meant branches could remain open to customers [during lockdown], even if remotely. We supplemented this with in-house support webinars named ‘Audience With..’. This facilitated internal communication; information sharing and best practice training” he says. 

“Engagement has been tremendously positive. We have run 60 webinar sessions this year engaging with 4,715 registrants from our partner network and these will continue.  Customers have also engaged online - to the end of June engaged users were up 25 per cent compared to the previous six months and the average online duration was up 17 per cent against the same period last year. Social Media engagement has generated an increase of 53 per cent reaching 8.9m consumers.”

He continues: “Our belief is that Covid-19 has accelerated the rate of technological usage by three to five years. Our approach to offer an enhanced customer experience whilst reducing labour costs and freeing up staff time to drive more revenue will be, we believe, key areas for the future.”

  • Andrew Stanton CEO Proptech-PR    Proptech Real Estate Influencer

    Kevin Hollinrake is on the money, the fourth industrial revolution is allowing all industries to find efficiencies, break from the shackles of legacy models and empower the workforce.

    The only positive from the pandemic is that the antiquated legacy model is now being shown to be just that, and smart innovation coupled with deep property knowledge is opening everyone's eyes to the future of real estate in all of its verticals.

    Technology within property is not a fad, its digital tendrils are here for good - and will remove swathes of boring repetitive back and front office procedures.

    WFH has shown even the most ardent critic, that agency is not just a high street business, but a high level of service business, where property professionals can digitally plug into the real estate nexus where ever they are, and if the pandemic strikes, business can still move forward, and the end client is happy to transact via the prism of their mobile.

    Hunters like many forward thinking businesses have not suddenly pivoted into the realms of property technology, they have for a sustained period had a strategic vision of modern agency, and will reap the benefits of this focus.

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    'IF the end client is happy to transact via the prism of their mobile', there, fixed it for you.

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    • 30 September 2020 12:25 PM

    Never underestimate how lazy people can be.

    I can't even be bothered to open up my laptop.
    Anything I wish to do I can via my mobile.
    That includes searching the major web portals.

    So as a way for EA to garner business.
    A prospective purchaser signs up to the EA giving access to their mobile location.

    A property comes in and immediately the EA pushes out contact to those nearby.
    There is a consequent rush of viewers from nearby.
    1st to get there likes it and puts in an offer.
    All facilitated by mobile location.

    No more EA phoning round.
    One message pushed out to all prospective clients to their mobiles.

    I don't know ANYONE who ignores messages and pushed emails to their mobile.

    Some might consider it intrusive.
    Well notifications can always be turned off!


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