Countrywide still shines after challenging Q3
Despite the challenging mortgage market conditions and the impact of the London Olympics, Countrywide’s strong cash generation continued apace, leaving the firm with a £52m closing cash balance.
Grenville Turner, group chief executive of Countrywide, the UK’s largest property services Group which includes the largest estate agency and lettings network, said: “As predicted, the Q3 market has been very challenging.
“Visibility on the timing of a significant market recovery in the UK residential market remains low with transaction volumes only 50% of the long run average.
“As a result, the 2012 market is expected to be broadly flat on 2011 with the mortgage market remaining a significant barrier to recovery.
“There has been a modest reduction overall in prices with significant regional variations but the average price of houses sold by Countrywide has increased by over 3% in 2012. Our lettings division continued its rapid growth again in Q3 achieving record income and profitability.
“Despite difficulties predicting the exact timing of a recovery in the market, we continue to look to the future.”
Countrywide’s strategic priorities include further consolidating its market share across all business areas by investing in new branches and new starts, more customer facing staff, innovative marketing, improved systems and online presence.
Turner added: “Growth continues as we secure more high profile corporate contracts which include Tesco Bank selecting Countrywide Surveying Services as the sole surveying panel manager for their mortgage customers in the UK.
“In addition, Mortgage Intelligence Holdings, our wholly owned subsidiary, also recently acquired ‘Life and Easy’ trading as FYB Network. The addition of FYB is a continuation of the group’s growth strategy and forms part of its long term plans to develop its presence by acquiring quality businesses and increasing our overall mortgage and insurance proposition.
“We are acutely aware that it is crucial that we have a technology platform capable of supporting this growth. In partnership with CGI, our technology partner of choice, we will be delivering technology transformation for the benefit of the business while making significant savings and we will also gain additional scalability for when the housing market does recover to more normal levels.
“In recognition of our continued strength in the market, we are pleased to be ranked 21st in this year’s Sunday Times Top Track 250 league table and the only estate agency group to be included as one of Britain’s leading mid-market private companies. We are also the first company of our type in the UK residential property sector to achieve the internationally-recognised standard for Information Security Management Systems (ISMS) formal certification – ISO/IEC 27001:200 which recognises our commitment to effective risk management and robust data security.”