Countrywide may have been criticised by some for recent management and strategy changes but one thing appears to have been proven - its desire to have a thriving lettings division to counteract the volatility of the sales sector.
While Countrywide’s share price suffered yesterday on news of a slump in sales, its report to the City on its trading during the first nine months of 2015 showed that residential lettings under management grew by seven per cent.
Alison Platt, Countrywide’s chief executive, says that by 2020 lettings - now accounting for about 35 per cent of her company’s earnings - would rise to 37 per cent. There would in particular be growth in private renting in major cities, markets which would be pursued through Countrywide’s acquisition of existing independent agencies.
Yesterday’s figures showed that the operating profits in the first nine months of the year for Britain’s largest sales and lettings agency group had tumbled down 11 per cent compared to the same period of 2014 even though the company insists its fortunes will improve.
The group says full-year profits are likely to fall short of its 2014 total of £121.1m and that sales volumes for the full 2015 year will be at least five per cent below last year’s total at around 950,000.