Countrywide Group 2019 results were released this morning.
The statement said:
The Group’s continuing business made significant financial and operational progress in 2019, benefitting from its ‘Back to basics’ turnaround plan.
This saw the Group return to profitable growth, with adjusted EBITDA pre-IFRS 16 up 16% year-on-year and, most importantly, our Sales and Lettings business returned to profit.
· Group income for the full year was £498.1 million, down 3% after absorbing £12.2 million impact of the tenant fee ban
· Adjusted EBITDA pre-IFRS 16 of £24.4 million was up 16% year-on-year and ahead of the Board’s expectations
· Adjusted EBITDA of £54.5 million
· Operating profit of £35.8 million (2018: £3.6 million) before £57.7 million of exceptional costs (principally non-cash exceptional charges for goodwill and other non-current asset impairments (2018: £237.2 million) with a net loss for the period of £37.5 million (2018: £224.4 million)
· Net debt pre-IFRS 16 £82.9 million (2018: £70.7 million) with net debt/adjusted EBITDA pre-IFRS 16) 3.4x (2018: 2.2x)
As noted in the update provided on 30 April 2020, the Group saw a positive start through the end of February in agreed sales which continued during March, with the pipeline of agreed sales 9% ahead year-on-year through the first 12 weeks of the year. The pipeline remained resilient and stood at approximately £50 million, ahead year-on-year. Equally, we continued to see the benefits of the recurring income from approximately 86,000 properties we manage across the UK on behalf of private and investor landlords and our book of general insurance policies.
Following the Government’s announcement on 12 May 2020 of the re-opening of the housing market in England, the Group has undertaken a comprehensive risk assessment of our business operations to ensure the health and safety of colleagues and customers, and begun phased re-opening for business across all of our operating channels, including physical branches and valuation visits in addition to the continuation of web-chat and telephony contact.
We have accelerated the expansion of our virtual viewing offerings, adapting to social distancing measures, and we are offering our customers online mortgage advice. This way of working is resonating well with our colleagues and customers who are appreciative of this multi-channel choice of engagement, providing support and advice whilst allowing everyone to stay safe.
For the four months to 30 April 2020, the Group benefited from positive trading in the first quarter, and the strong pipeline build before lockdown. Adjusted EBITDA to 30 April 2020 was significantly ahead of prior year for continuing operations, and the Group’s cash position remains strong, with liquidity at 20 May 2020 of £60 million. In order to provide additional liquidity, the Group continues to explore the availability of funding available to large businesses under the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme.
We continue to actively monitor the effect of the COVID-19 situation. The Board’s priority remains the safety of our colleagues and customers; to provide essential services to our customers; to preserve and protect the future of the business for our people; and to conserve cash and to manage the Group through the coronavirus pandemic.
Whilst the housing market in England was re-opened on 13 May, it is too early to assess the impact on housing transactions, and the Group is therefore unable to provide guidance on future profitability.