Connells snaps up Peter Alan agency for £16.4m

The Connells Group has acquired Peter Alan, with 26 branches across Wales, for £16.4m. Meanwhile, Countrywide this morning announced a huge 202% rise in profits for the first half of this year, together with a 29% rise in revenue. Countrywide said they were the strongest results for seven years.

However, notably, Countrywide also said in its results that while income in its estate agency division had grown 17%, and despite a pipeline of sales agreed at the half year stage being 27% higher than the previous year, it has suffered from serious fall-through problems.

Its report notes that “income has grown despite increased difficulty in getting sales agreed through to exchange of contracts; consequently our pipeline conversion was 3% lower than the first half of 2013”.

Countrywide’s average house price was £196,445, up 9% from the first half of last year.

Both Countrywide and Connells estate agency chains have been hard on the acquisition trail.

Connells, owned by the Skipton Building Society and which already has the Allen & Harris estate agency brand in Wales, has bought Peter Alan – the biggest estate agency in Wales –  from Principality Building Society.

As part of the deal, Connells will be delivering valuation services to Principality. All 230 Peter Alan staff will transfer to Connells.

Last year, Peter Alan reported profits of £1m and a 20% market share. However, Principality chief executive Graeme Yortson said it had decided to sell the agency and outsource its surveyors business in order to concentrate on mortgage lending.

Connells has already acquired five local estate agency and lettings businesses since the start of the year.

Peter Alan will continue to trade under its existing brand with the managing director Andrew Barry reporting to Connells Group estate agency chief executive David Plumtree.

Plumtree said: “We remain very open to approaches from owners of existing sales or lettings businesses looking to further their growth as part of a wider group.”

Both Connells and Countrywide are announcing their half year results this morning.

Today’s results for Countrywide – the UK’s largest estate agent – show big rises in income and profits.

For the six months ended June 30, Countrywide’s income shot up 29% from the same period last year to £334.5m (£258m in the same period last year).

Pre-tax profits soared by 202% to £37.1m, up from £12.3m.

Countrywide also underlined in its results its investment and acquisitions, including 16 purchases of lettings businesses.

The Countrywide results, which include how its upmarket brand Hamptons International is doing, follow Rightmove’s spectacular results of yesterday.

Yesterday, shares in Countrywide ended at 513p.

They have recovered in recent days after falling to a low of around 465p earlier this month. In March, they were at a record high of nearly 700p.


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