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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

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Another day, another Countrywide lettings acquisition - it's a big one

Countrywide is next week formally announcing that it is acquiring the large Oxford-based lettings agency Finders Keepers.

Countrywide says the agency - now 44 years old, with eight offices and 100-plus staff members - has over 2,400 properties on its books, including those occupied by a substantial number of students, high-end academic and corporate tenants, and unusual renters including overseas racing drivers relocating to the UK to be near Silverstone. 

The FK agency is also unusual in having annual events for its landlords, ranging from social occasions and outings to a highly-successful seminar looking at residential issues.

The agency is to be “fully integrated” into the group according to a Countrywide statement but the well-known FK brand name will be retained.

This is the latest in a long line of Countrywide acquisitions in the private rental sector - an area which chief executive Alison Platt has said is key to her vision of the group doubling its business by 2020.

Countrywide snapped up 30 agencies in 2015 and this year has started aggressively - the Bristol-based Woods agency chain has been acquired, earlier this week the Buy To Let Business mortgage brokerage was acquired, and now Finders Keepers.

Countrywide is also to lead a group including Connells and Zoopla in a partnership with proptech company Fixflo, currently best known for its online lettings repair software. Fixflo’s products are to be marketed by Zoopla in which Countrywide has a minority stake. 

Countrywide’s share price yesterday closed up 5.5p (1.49%) at 374.9 as investors continue to take in Countrywide’s 2015 results announced last week, which revealed a 37 per cent drop in operating profits.

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