Countrywide hoists For Sale sign over branches it wants to rent back

Countrywide has put five of its offices up for sale with the intention of leasing them back.

All five are with 574, the online auction arm launched in January by Countrywide commercial property brand Lambert Smith Hampton.

Two of the properties are in Scotland – a Countrywide branch in Airdrie (guide price £110,000); and Slater Hogg & Howison at Bridge of Weir (£130,000).

The three others are in England – Dixons in Castle Bromwich (£160,000); Country & Waterside in St Mawes, Cornwall (£150,000); and Bridgfords in Whitby (£250,000).

All are up for sale on June 26. Terms vary, but for example the Bridgfords office would be leased back for ten years, with a break in the fifth year, at a rent of £22,000 per year.

A spokesperson for Countrywide confirmed that all five offices are fully owned by the business, and that the freeholds or their equivalents are being sold on a sale and leaseback arrangement.

Countrywide has previously sold on this basis only very occasionally, when there was a specific request.

Nor will there be further sales, as the five offices being sold are the extent of Countrywide’s freehold estate.

The spokesperson said: “Our brands, branch network and the colleagues who work within them remain at the heart of our customer offering.

“It makes absolute sense to transact the limited freehold estate we have on a sale and leaseback basis as we are not a property investment business.

“This arrangement is commonly adopted where capital can be deployed in more efficient ways for the business. It does not impact on our staff or customers in any way.”

Countrywide shares took another hit on the stock market yesterday, with the price falling at one stage by over 6% to around 4.8p. They recovered slightly to end the day at 4.9p.

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  1. GeorgeOrwell

    Circa £800,000, and that will be “invested” where in the business?
    Selling off branches. whilst closing others is self-inflicting more “Negative PR”, just what CW doesn’t need.  
    The Share Price I assume will continue its journey into the basement.
    What next, the staff being asked to ring a bell as they walk to their office warning others that a CW employee is approaching? 
    I walked past a Slater Hogg Branch yesterday, once proud, now it looked shabby/tired/almost closed -the staff have no pride/desire/morale to spruce up their display. The Branch Manager, instead of sending begging Touting Letters should actually get a paintbrush out as that would be more productive.
    It’s effectively death by a thousand cuts  

  2. Hillofwad71

    Every little helps !!

    The sounds of rivets popping as they are listing towards loan covenant breaches.  Latest attempt at looking down the back of the sofa to raise capital .Selling the family silver and hocking themselves with rents.

    Investors will be looking beyond the “attractive yields” appraising these with vacant possession value The CWD covenant looking very  iffy



  3. smile please


    As an investor, I would not be confident CW would still be trading in 5 years paying my rent.

  4. Moveaside01

    Well if they’re having trouble selling properties maybe they might need a bit of help getting them shifted?

    I’ll do a multi with them at 2%, winner takes all obviously!

  5. Sdaltaf101

    The vultures (Banks) are tearing strips off the carcass.


    Iceberg dead ahead Captain Smith.


  6. Jonathan.Welford

    Sounds like bailing out the Titanic with a tea spoon.  What investor would pay for a shop which has a business that’s likely to fold.  A ten year lease is meaningless if there’s a likelihood of the business going into the hands of the receivers.

  7. J1

    They can only spend it once

    A last throw of the dice from a directionless Board

  8. Pinky and The Brain

    So who’s to blame for this ever decreasing mess.. Alison, the Bods, MDs or the yes men area managers. Maybe the best AM I worked under in Cornwall Mr A McNight will take up the St Mawes option and give them a helping hand since his agency is flourishing  post CW. Cream always rises to the  top!


    1. Retiredandrelaxed

      Andrew McKnight – another of the “good guys” forced or eased out by higher management who don’t/didn’t recognise and value the people that they had working for them.

  9. Eyereaderturnedposter12

    The circa £800k maybe to pay for the new “back to basics” coffee mugs at the next investment conference(?)…

    or as the CW investor liaison team will ask potential investors…”coffee, mugs?”

  10. Bigbee73

    “we are not a property investment business”…….nor, IT, Branch, Brand, Training, or People investment either by the looks of it. It is infuriating to watch this decline, when the answers to most of the current issues could be solved by my 9 year old whose on the spectrum.

    AM’s and upwards need to take a long hard look at themselves and accept they have only got their positions by time served, not on the results they have inspired. They should stop being yes men and perhaps look to a Management Buyout, if they really believe they have the skills to keep the business alive,

    But for the love of God, Do not take up RQ’s offer of free advice, that will mean you are all looking for a new employer in double quick time.

    Take it to the MD’s and challenge them to prove themselves, but be quick!!!!!!

  11. smile please

    After hearing Quirk beat his chest and say how he has the answer (he does not) I gave some thought to what I would do if handed the keys.

    It’s a pretty simple answer, and it would be music to my ears if I was there as a BM.

    Get rid of all the defined areas that offices have as safe zones. It stifles the entrepreneurial spirit of good neighbouring branch managers.

    They will be closing offices any way so why not identify your best offices with best staff, as keeps them on their toes.

  12. bobserver

    watch this space, all ‘King and Chasemore’ branches in Brighton are closing on Friday according to the grapevine.

  13. Local Independent

    One way of hitting the month’s instructions target!!

  14. WiltsAgent

    £800k isn’t going to touch the sides. They are sunk under their debt level. Like many others.

  15. Industry insider

    CW is in very serious trouble.

    For example CW residential lettings lacks senior management able to operate effectively in a much more difficult market. What is the CW plan for the fee ban in 2 days time – at the moment there does not look to be a detailed plan beyond hoping for the best !!!

    CW looks like Cornerstone did in the mid 1990s.

    Cornerstone had a really large network and some top brands but it’s executives including on the financial side were shockingly poor. It crashed never to be heard of again.

    Sadly CW could soon go the same way ……



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