Late last week the acquisition of Hunters by EweMove and Martin & Co parent company The Property Franchise Group (TPFG) was finally waived through by the courts, helping raise the TPFG share price to an all-time high for the year.
Following the media silence during the prolonged negotiations prior to the deal going through, TPFG CEO Gareth Samples and Hunters Chief Executive Glynis Frew talk to The Negotiator about why the deal happened, and what happens next.
Why did TPFG and Hunters do the deal?
Glynis: “I think it’s the same across a number of businesses – Covid has changed nothing but accelerated everything and Hunters was very proud of what we had achieved on our journey so far, but knew there was so much more to do.
“From our point of view TPFG is a brilliant business with good brands and it’s very much about the independent agent which is what we’re about and the best thing of all for us and our franchisees is that each speaks in their own voice within the organisation.
“Franchisees are entrepreneurs and they want to run their own business within their own parameter – so the deal will good for them and the staff that work at both companies.”
Gareth: “There will be no change for any of the Hunters franchises following this deal and we’ve been really clear about that.
“Overall, we wanted to grow and Hunters was our No.1 target. Our intention isn’t to come in and take over Hunters, the management team remains in place, albeit with some minimum input from me. Glynis still runs the business and we’re proud to have it in our stable now.”
Will there be any job losses due to the acquisition?
Gareth: “The deal announcement mentioned ‘cost synergies’ but these refer to the fact that we’re both AIM listed stockmarket businesses and we had significant City broker and advice fees every year and a board each to run – whereas now that’s been cut in half.
“Our businesses are already pretty skinny at head office level both at TPFG, EweMove and now Hunters but of course we’ll be looking at whether we need everyone we’ve got and are they realising their full potential. But given we have three separate HQs, I think most people working at them have too much not too little to do.”
Wil there overlap in areas and towns?
Gareth: “I said to one of our franchisees yesterday who asked the same question that they’ll wake up tomorrow with Hunters as a competitor in the same way it always was; there’s no change.
“We had six brands before Hunters and its two other brands joined us, and they had territory overlap too so it’s part of the business.”
How will the new expanded financial advisor team work?
“There will probably now be 150 financial advisors working in-branch across the whole business offering face-to-face advice backed up by some digital initiatives and telephone-based fulfilment for the branches that do fewer sales and more lettings, primarily within the EweMove network.”
Where does the deal place you?
Gareth: “We are now the second larger estate agency group in the UK after Connells and Countrywide, ahead of LSL and Leaders Romans in terms of branches. We now have 430 branches, 115 territories within EweMove.”
Will the Hunters identity continue?
Glynis: “Yes, definitely – the won’t change much except for me. My boss has changed and I now report to Gareth not Kevin Hollinrake. We don’t know each other that well, but I think we’ll be a good team and we share the same values and listen to each other. And yes, we have met in person, although obviously safely via social distancing.”
Gareth: “We had about 20 Zoom ‘dates’ first.”
Will Kevin Hollinrake still input into Hunters?
Glynis: “No he made the decision to step away and focus on his other interests, not to mention the demands of being an MP.”
Will there be more mergers and acquisitions like yours?
Glynis: “Yes, I think there will be more.”