Countrywide has bought Fitz-Gibbon, the London-based independent set up by current ARLA President Susan Fitz-Gibbon and her husband Gerald.
The Fitz-Gibbons will now devote more of their time to the cancer charity they started earlier this year, Chordoma UK, after Susan was struck with this rare form of cancer.
Gerald Fitz-Gibbon said: “The approach from Countrywide came at just the right time, as we were re-evaluating our positions within the company.
“Susan has been actively involved with ARLA for some 20 years and will continue with her Presidential commitments while remaining a consultant at Fitz-Gibbon.
“The sale also provides us both with time to focus on our other business interests and most importantly, Chordoma UK (www.chordoma-uk.org), the bone cancer charity which we founded this spring.”
The purchase of Fitz-Fibbon, for an undisclosed sum, is part of a £24m shopping bill for Countrywide this year, which has acquired 28 different lettings businesses in 2103.
One of the purchases was of Flats in Leeds, set up by Christine Yorath, mother of TV presenter Gabby Logan and ex-wife of footballer Terry Yorath, in a deal thought to be worth £800,000.
Flats in Leeds was launched by the entrepreneurial Christine Yorath in 2000. Two years ago, former Huddersfield Town chairman and Netflights.com founder Terry Fisher invested in the firm and became non-executive chairman. He became majority shareholder last year.
Another very recent purchase by Countrywide was Russells, a prominent letting agent in Cambridgeshire.
Countrywide plans to buy a similar number of businesses next year.
Over the past five years Countrywide has invested £47.2m in acquiring over 60 lettings businesses throughout England and Scotland.
And in the last six years it has added over 300 branches to its lettings network through acquisitions and new starts within its existing estate agency network.
Nick Dunning, group commercial director at Countrywide, said: “A highly fragmented lettings market offers ongoing opportunities to acquire lettings businesses and scope to enter new markets as well as expand our business presence in existing markets.
“This is an exciting period for Countrywide Residential Lettings and the growth of our lettings operation continues to be a major focus as it remains a key income driver for the Group.”
John Hards, managing director of Countrywide Residential Lettings, said: “I am delighted to welcome the acquisitions to the Countrywide Residential Lettings team and look forward to working with all who have joined us.
“Countrywide has a unique ability to grow businesses by ensuring they operate autonomously, retain their local heritage and benefit from Countrywide’s ongoing investment and support.
“In line with our expansion strategy and with more acquisitions in the pipeline, we are very interested in talking to professional agents with single or multi-branch businesses almost anywhere in the UK.”
In July, the inspirational Susan Fitz-Gibbon gave this interview to LAT: