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Agencies & People

Countrywide CEO Alison Platt quits after sales and lettings ‘lose focus’

No mention made by company of plummeting share price, but City worries over sliding profits likely to have persuaded CEO to go.

Nigel Lewis

It’s official – after several days of speculation, Countrywide CEO Alison Platt has resigned from the company and will stand down from the board.

Until a successor is found Executive Chairman Peter Long is to run the company.

He is believed to have been instrumental in challenging the company’s strategic direction of recent, and a key figure in persuading Alison Platt to go.

Clearly talking to the City, Peter says that although some parts of the company have been performing well, its core sales and lettings business has “lost focus” and that “a key priority will be to implement changes that will enable this area to start delivering once again,”.

Profitable growth

“Working together with this experienced executive team I feel confident we can return the business to profitable growth.

“We have a strong and successful business in Financial Services, B2B and Commercial led by an experienced and committed management team.”

There is speculation that Paul Creffield (pictured, left), who has been Managing Director of its Commercial Development team and joined the company in 2006, may be in the running to be the next CEO.

During his time at Countrywide he has led most of its divisions and before joining the company worked at Rightmove and the Nationwide Building Society.

He has been made Group Operations Director and will now also run Countrywide’s key Sales and Lettings Division.

On leaving, Alison penned a rueful goodbye to the company she has lead since 2014, saying: “I have worked hard, within a difficult market, to structure a fragmented business into one set for success.

“I believe those actions will serve Countrywide well in the future. However, the time is now right for me to step aside. I look forward to seeing the business build back and return to growth.”

City comments

City analyst Jefferies International was this morning upbeat about the prospects for Countryside, despite the recent share price slide.

“We appreciate that to some the common or garden sales and lettings sector often looks rather old hat compared to some of the colourful hybrid agents, however, in our view, agency remains a people business,” it says.

“Countrywide, with hindsight, tried to modernise too quickly and in its desire to stay relevant in a fast-changing market, probably took the business backwards not forward.

“The intention of change was to create value and we should not be overly critical of management teams trying new ways of creating value. The key is that lessons have been learned and we believe today marks the first step of a new journey.”

January 24, 2018

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