Winkworth has revealed that it has significantly reduced the fees it charges to franchisees in a bid to help them through the Coronavirus crisis, funded by stopping all but essential marketing and training course activity.
The measure is part of a surprisingly upbeat statement from the Winkworth group in which it celebrates a successful 2019 and is bullish about the group and its franchisees surviving the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.
It says branches were closed on 24th March, the morning after the Prime Minister’s ‘lockdown’ announcement, and since then it has been implementing a remote working system for franchisees and their staff to use.
It has also been helping set up protocols on how to deal with customers, and information on the furlough system and the government’s Coronavirus business loan scheme.
Winkworth says it has more than enough cash in the bank to survive a range of pandemic scenarios and unlike almost all of its London Stock Exchange listed competitors, has decided to pay a final dividend for 2019.
Reading between the lines of the Winkworth statement, it’s not hard to sense the frustration at the arrival of Coronavirus after four years of hard slog as Stamp Duty and Brexit impacted the prime housing market.
“The first quarter of this year started extremely well, with sales applicants rising by 30-40% on the comparable period in 2019,” says CEO Dominic Agace (left).
“We also saw a positive start in lettings, albeit with supply reducing as fewer buy-to-let investors entered the market due to additional stamp duty changes on second home purchases.”