Connells has revealed that it furloughed most of its staff during the Covid lockdown but topped up the government scheme so that they were paid their full basic salary and commission earned during March, April, May, June and July.
This generous policy has been revealed in its interim results for the first six months of the year in which it also says all the agency’s 600 high street branches are now open and staff are being returned from furlough as business increases.
“Whilst some estate agents have been slow to reopen, some remain closed possibly never to reopen and with others reviewing their operating model, our own business has been responsive to the challenge,” says Connells Group CEO David Livesey (left).
But surviving Covid has been damaging for the estate agency giant financially, dropping its pre-tax profits for the first half of the year to £17.2 million, down from £26.2 million last year.
The company says it has been impacted significantly by the pandemic, and that exchanges are down by 29% compared to the same period in 2019.
“The majority of our management team have been with us for many years, with exposure to all types of markets in the past, but this unexpected public health crisis is incomparable to anything else we’ve ever experienced,” says Livesey.
“Through swift and decisive action and the implementation of mitigating and cost saving measures, our business has navigated itself effectively through the crisis and is well positioned for the future.
“We prioritise people at all times – be it our colleagues, customers, suppliers – ensuring their health, safety and wellbeing, minimising impact on them and delivering continuity of service.”
During July, Connells says new applicant registrations and mortgage appointments jumped by 37% and 56% respectively, and sales agreed up by 33%.