Foxtons’ longest-serving board member and more recently chairman Ian Barlow has announced that he is to retire at the end of the year or earlier if a successor can be found.
The 67 year-old has been the firm’s chairman for eight years and under governance rules could only serve a further term at the top.
Barlow is not a career estate agent. Having achieved an MA in engineering science from Cambridge, he then began a career as a chartered accountant and chartered tax advisor, working latterly as a senior partner at KPMG, which he retired from in 2008.
Other roles he still holds include being a Non-Executive Director of medical products firm Smith & Nephew plc and the Brunner Investment Trust plc. He is also Chairman of The Racecourse Association and a board member of the China British Business Council.
Barlow has helped steer Foxtons through turbulent times since 2015 which have seen its share price plummet, profits evaporate and turnover slump as the London sales market is used to dominate has faltered.
More recently the firm endured a very public shareholder revolt over executive pay and only a few weeks ago announced a major change in direction including a move to a hybrid model to expand outside London.
“It has been a privilege to have served on the Board and more recently as Chairman for the past eight years,” he says.
“Foxtons is an excellent company with a strong brand, great people, leading industry technology and deep branch coverage across London.
“A series of challenges to the London property market since the Brexit referendum, compounded more recently by the pandemic, have impaired our recent trading performance.
“But the business has huge potential, and I am confident that the refreshed growth strategy, agreed by the Board last year and set out in the Capital Markets Day presentation in June, will result in a substantial rebound in performance.
“There are already signs of this with adjusted operating profit for the first half of the year expected to be significantly ahead of both 2020 and 2019.”
Josh Ponniah (pictured), Partner at Catalist Partners, which is a shareholder in the company and has criticised some of its past decisions, says: “We hope the company takes this opportunity to supplement the board with specific industry expertise and the entrepreneurialism required to ensure Foxtons is able to restore the market share lost since 2015, pursue growth in new areas, leverage its technological advantage and realise the untapped potential we see in the business.”