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Former Countrywide boss reveals his thoughts on LSL takeover

John Hards gives his views on what the future holds for his former colleagues following the expected acquisition of Countrywide later this month.

Nigel Lewis


Former Countrywide lettings boss John Hards has revealed his thoughts on the future of the Countrywide brands following the company’s expected acquisition by LSL, and hinted that he doesn’t expect a significant headcount reduction.

“I say to any Countrywide staff who might be nervous about their future at the company following a deal – if you’re good at what you do then LSL will want to keep you,” he says.

Now working as a consultant and speaking at his Cornish home, Hards says he endorses the takeover of Countrywide by LSL but admits it will be hard to achieve, although he wishes he was still there to be part of the ‘fun as well as the hard work’.

He also expects that LSL will, after a review, keep all the Countrywide brands, arguing that the company has got rid of brands in the past, but that it ‘did not help the business’.

Hards also says that, although the Platt years saw many middle managers leave as her ‘retail’ approach blew in, it has allowed a fresh batch of new faces to rapidly gain experience and take on wider responsibilities.

“I think these Countrywide people could teach the LSL team a thing or two,” he says.

Hards also says that Countrywide MD Paul Creffield should keep a senior role within the new set up, assuming the acquisition goes ahead.

“His experience is unquestionable, as is his knowledge of the business,” he says. “But who else makes it on to the board of the two merged companies will be the contentious bit.”

Hards left Countrywide in 2017 after a 35 year career at the firm but returned in 2018 to steer the company through the tenant fees ban.



March 16, 2020

One comment

  1. I need some help here – if the now dead in the water – LSL hostile bid had taken place John Hards feels that Paul Creffield would have been the right man to sit in a joint boardroom, steering the two merged companies into the 2020’s?

    Is this the same Mr Creffield who allowed Countrywide to be fined over £100,000 in fines and costs, due to their mismanagement of lettings funds, the £10,000,000 in the wrong account fiasco.

    What came out of that horror show was the arrogant stance that Mr Creffield took, rather than being contrite, if you read all of the documentation on the case, it seems unless I have got it totally wrong, Countrywide between 2008 and 2018 had in place a policy agreed at CEO level to keep the untraceable lettings funds in the company account, all 10M of it, rather then keep it safe in a separate account, from which the funds should have been distributed elsewhere.

    Paul Creffield when alerted to it, fully co-operated with the RICS investigation, but – Paul Creffield did not become CEO, discover the deceit, and then report it as a whistle- blower. No it was an outside audit that picked up on the situation, which if let undetected may well have continued.

    In fact if you look closely at Paul’s statement in mitigation he seems very much to make the case that because Countrywide does billions of pounds worth of mortgages a year, have a massive RICs prescence, and has a huge 800 (?) strong office presence with many branches in all the towns and villages, it would be a travesty if Countrywide were too badly damaged by the affair as it would possibly upset the property industry as a whole. (TOO BIG TO FAIL).

    In other words – Countrywide had in place by its own admission a questionable practice, the internal transfer of client funds, which was company policy. Then by chance an outsider found out about it, and of course if your are the CEO of the day you are going to be as helpful as you can, but I think that to play the card of Too big to fail, is a dangerous one – especially now.

    Because if Countrywide is founded upon financial services and has within in very notable and trustworthy RICS personnel, shouldn’t the bar be set higher rather than lower, as a warning to all. The panel in their judgement under mitigating and aggravating matters, actually states that Countrywide were using the fund to inflate their profit provision.

    As a matter of balance I am told by those who know that Paul is a very good at what he does, but I wonder if the matter had not come to light, would anyone at Countrywide have seized the nettle.

    Also where did this leave the likes of former CEO’s Alison Platt (90% fall in the share price) for example, and the auditors and the Chief financial officers?

    My advice get some fresh blood, someone who is younger, who knows about agency, people, technology and does not come from Tescos. You know where I am.

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