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Latest Countrywide results reveal alarming decline in sales and lettings revenue

Despite good news from its non-branch businesses, the core operation saw a 14% decline in revenue year-on-year during 2017.

Nigel Lewis

CountrywideCountrywide says its financial services and business-to-business operations delivered strong growth last year, but otherwise its latest trading update is unlikely to impress investors in the City.

Group income for 2017 is expected to be down 8.8% year-on-year and down by 8.4% year-on-year for the final quarter.

The City is likely to be worried in particular by Countrywide’s group pre-tax profits, which dropped year-on-year by 22% to £65 million.

Countrywide expects its sales and lettings business to have produced £360m last year when the final results are published in March, down 14% on 2016, which it blames on a “disappointing” final quarter last year.

Its lettings business performed best declining by 4% last year while sales income dropped by 14%.

London market

One glimmer of hope for the company is the improving London market, where a decline in income has been halted and its sales operation is doing better than the rest of the country.

But the battering for its sales and lettings operation is clear in the figures – profits are due to be down 45% year-on-year for 2017, although Countrywide says the cost of its recent branch closures and staff cuts made over the past two years are a principal reason for this.

“We have begun to take a range of actions over the last quarter that we believe can restore the business back to profitable growth,” the update says. One figure buried in the report will cheers investors – Countrywide reduced its debt during 2017 from £248m to £193m.

Read more about Countrywide.

January 18, 2018

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