Countrywide cuts losses despite Brexit pressure on housing market

UK estate agent Countrywide’s turnaround has continued to gather pace as it cut losses in the first half, despite Brexit pressures weakening the housing market.

Shares in the company bounced higher after it said that adjusted earnings will improve in the second half of the year, however its share value is still 90% lower than two years earlier.

The Bairstow Eves owner has been trying to recover from a botched 2015 restructuring programme which led to a string of profit warnings, but has seen its problems compounded by the cooling property market.

Countrywide said it is continuing to rebuild its market share, although transformation plans have been slowed down by the “weak” market.

The market for buying new properties has been weakened by “political and Brexit uncertainty”, Countrywide warned, as house prices across the country continue to stagnate.

Nevertheless, the company trimmed losses back to £37.7 million for the six months to June 30, from £206.4 million losses a year earlier.

The company also said it has secured a new debt deal with lenders for the next two years.

During the half year, revenues slipped by 4% to £290.6 million as the number of UK house sales fell by 1.8% to 21,624 for the period.

Revenues fell as the company said it cut branches, staff and marketing spending to “reset” its cost structure.

Peter Long, executive chairman of the company, said: “The fundamental changes we have made to our business in the last 18 months are beginning to bear fruit.

“Our register and pipeline of agreed sales is healthy and we continue to rebuild market share, re-establishing our market-leading position across both sales and lettings.

“The actions we have taken give us confidence that the group will deliver full-year results in line with the board’s expectations.”

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