Countrywide chief exits following profit warning

Countrywide chief exits following profit warning

The chief executive of property group Countrywide has resigned just days after the firm issued a profit warning.

Alison Platt, who joined the business in 2014, has left the position and stepped down from its board.

Peter Long, currently chairman, will be executive chairman until a successor is appointed. His annual fee has been doubled to £360,000 during this period.

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Ms Platt said: “I have worked hard, within a difficult market, to structure a fragmented business into one set for success. I believe those actions will serve Countrywide well in the future, however the time is now right for me to step aside.

“I look forward to seeing the business build back and return to growth.”

Countrywide claims it is UK’s largest mortgage broker with around 10 per cent market share of mortgages via intermediaries, and 1 in 16 UK mortgages being secured through Countrywide Mortgage Services, according to the company.

It has a national network of mortgage consultants with over 600 employed by Countrywide including a small number of specialist remortgage brokers.

Countrywide is due to publish its preliminary results on 8 March and said it will give further details on its strategy then.

But last week it warned that total group income for the year was expected to be around £672m, down from £737m in 2016. Income in the sales and letting business is down 14 per cent on 2016 at £360m.

Also in today's (24 January) market update, managing director of commercial development Paul Creffield has been made group operations director. He will work closely with Mr Long and be responsible for the sales and lettings division of the business.

Countrywide, which listed on the stock exchange in 2013, has struggled in recent years as its battled headwinds include post-Brexit concerns over the property market and changes to lettings fees rules. Shares, which peaked in March 2014 at 686.5p, closed at 104.6p yesterday (23 January)..

Mr Long said: “Within our core sales and lettings area we have lost focus and a key priority will be to implement changes that will enable this to start delivering once again. I feel confident we can return the business to profitable growth.”

Countrywide is the UK’s largest property services group, employing more than 11,000 people across financial services, surveying, conveyancing, asset management, property management, residential development and property auction divisions.