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30% of Countrywide branches remain closed as revenues tumble

Estate agency giant says it is taking time to process the openings including risk assessing and Covid certifying branches.

Nigel Lewis

countrywide

Countrywide has revealed that its network of branches is still not fully open with nearly a third remaining closed six weeks after the housing market reopened.

The company says it is taking time to risk assess, certify COVID-secure and then open branches with all meetings pre-arranged by appointment only.

The Covid crisis has impacted its financial performance too. Year-on-year income and profits are down by nearly 30%, the company has revealed this morning as it updates investors on its first five months of trading this year.

The UK’s largest estate agency blames the decline squarely on the Covid lockdown but says the tenant fees ban has also cost it £8.1 million in lost fees.

Its revenue has plummeted from £200 million in 2019 to £142 million while profits are down from £10 million to £7.4 million, both year-on-year.

Back to normal

But its results since the housing market opened are much more hopeful. It says all the company’s vendors are now being offered virtual viewings, and that last week instruction were running at 94% of 2019 levels and 86% of the average in the first 12 weeks of the year and pre-lockdown.

Countywide’s sales pipeline has remained resilient with a return to growth in agreed sales in the last four weeks as the market returns and a closing pipeline of £47 million, down 12% year-on-year. It also says its surveying, mortgage and valuations operations are slowly building back to normal levels.

Also, Countrywide has also found a potential buyer for its commercial property business Lambert Smith Hampton after the original purchaser, Monaco-based John Bengt Moeller, failed to complete the £38 million transaction. Countrywide is now pursuing him for damages and costs.

Read more about Countrywide and its branches re-opening programme.

June 26, 2020

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