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Spicerhaart boss admits aim of new operating model is to have ‘fewer branches’

Paul Smith makes comment within group's latest financial results covering 2020, which reveal how 'hub and home working' initiative helped cut operating costs during Covid months.

Nigel Lewis

spicerhaart

Spicerhaart boss Paul Smith has revealed that the company’s home-working initiative is part of an overall plan to “move towards a new operating model covering the same markets more efficiently…with fewer physical branches”.

The comment are made in the company’s latest published trading full-year trading results.

These reveal the benefits of the new lower-cost, fewer branches strategy – including an 11% or £14.3 million reduction in operating costs last year.

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, which like most other agencies within the industry hit its sales and surveying businesses hard, the seven-estate agency group has reported a profit before tax of £9 million compared to a loss in 2019 of £1.6 million.

This is despite turnover dropping from £126.7 million in 2019 to £115.5 million last year, so the cost savings couldn’t have come at a better time.

Branch reduction

Spicerhaart insiders told The Negotiator in May last year that the company was planning a branch reduction exercise, something the company would not comment on at the time.

It subsequently launched its ‘hub and home office’ operation which it has been rolling out across the UK since the housing market reopened after the first lockdown.

Introduced in existing as well as new areas, the initiative is based at ‘Property Centre’ branches, lead at each one by an Area Partner and overseen along with traditional branch activity by an Estate Agent Director.

Commenting on the latest results, Smith says: “2020 was a challenging year for all, but the directors are pleased with how resilient the business proved to be, demonstrating its ability to react quickly to risk and the benefit of the ongoing growth being driven in those businesses which are more stable and less exposed to the volatility  of the residential sales market.”

October 28, 2021

One comment

  1. I’ve long said that the only way for estate agency to prosper is by transforming organisations to those that cover bigger areas with fewer physical branches. I was trying to explain the merits of this directly to Countrywide and Foxtons CEOs/Chairmen back in 2017, to no avail.

    However, that aside, whilst it’s great to see Spicers making a profit at last, how on Earth did they manage to oversee a REDUCTION in revenue this year in the hottest property market we’ve seen since the 1980’s? That’s a very worrying outcome especially as volumes settle back to ‘normal’.
    I suspect the issue here is that whilst Smith has grasped the principle of fewer branches covering bigger areas, he’s unable to truly execute on a ‘less is more’ ethos operationally, technically and from a marketing perspective.

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