EYE NEWSFLASH: Humberts staff told that firm is to go into administration

Humberts, one of the country’s oldest estate agents, is to be placed into administration.

The news was broken to shocked staff on Friday, and they were told to expect their P45s.

It is understood that some 48 jobs may be affected.

Staff were told that the board of directors has concluded that the company is not in a position to continue trading, and that steps are being taken to place the company into administration.

They were told that the company’s trading activities would be closed immediately, and that staff were being made redundant. It is not known whether franchisees of Humberts might be affected.

Despite repeated emails and voicemail messages, EYE was unable to make contact with senior people at Humberts including Matt Spence, who headed up the company that bought the firm almost two years ago. Attempts to contact the head of marketing and Humberts CEO Tim Simmons also failed to elicit responses. The public relations firm previously representing Humberts told us it is no longer doing so.

The telephone at Humberts’ flagship “hub” in Dorset was picked up by an answering service, and we were simply told that the phone was answered when the team was unavailable.

The live chat service on the Humberts website was working normally at the weekend, with the assistant telling us that the agent was open.

Humberts’ properties are still being listed on the portals, including 29 in Dorset according to Rightmove. The latest was listed on November 25, while a property added on November 19 is marked as under offer.

There are also residential branches of Humberts in the Cotswolds, Devon, Dorset, Sussex, Kent, Somerset and Cornwall. Commercial branches are also part of the Humberts business and include locations in the Lake District, Dorset and Somerset.

Humberts was founded in 1842. It merged with Chestertons in 2009 with both businesses in trouble during the recession. The two de-merged in 2013 but Humberts went into administration in April 2018.

It was then bought by a holiday lettings business, Natural Retreats, headed by Matt Spence.

The new owners embarked on a programme of replacing high street branches with ‘hubs’, the first of which was at Poundbury, Dorset. It appointed Tim Simmons as CEO in May. He started at Humberts’ office in Bridport, Dorset, in 1999 as a junior negotiator.

Speculation about Humberts was posted on social media.

Below, one of the tweets:

 

Moovshack
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10 Comments

  1. smile please

    Well we all saw it coming. From the very start with the lifestyle hub idea from a chap with no real agency experience.

    Sorry for individuals losing there jobs so close to Christmas.

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  2. GPL

    Sorry to hear of closure, particularly for the staff at this time of year.
     
    Like sp I would suspects that “Hubs” are not the “magic bullet” touted as the replacement for High St/Local Estate Agents.
     
    However those on the inside should know what went wrong if they were “managing” the business. As always, the staff are the last to know!    
     
     

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  3. J1

    That’s very sad

    This conceptual idea was always flawed unfortunately

    Regrettably it won’t be the only regional agent to fail in this market

    Greedy and unwise directors in ivory towers beware – the agency landscape has changed and will continue to do so

     

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  4. JonnyBanana43

    What about the York office? A franchise I’m sure. Running on between 3-12 instructions for the last 5 years?
    what now? Will that office close?

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  5. Duncan Ley

    This won’t effect the franchised offices In Cornwall, York, East Grinstead, Long Melford, Norwich, Stamford or Nottingham as these are independently owned and operated.

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    1. smile please

      Think it will with the head franchise going bust. Could be issues over using the brand and agreements in place with providers such as Rightmove.

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  6. Oldwiltshire

    Really sad for all at Humberts. Never good timing, but being so close to Christmas is pretty rubbish.

    Sadly the importance of the old boys in Humberts, the likes of David, Nick, James, Martin et al were underestimated, and the core of the business, namely offering respected advice in market towns was quickly done away with. The new approach to agency that Matt and his management team were trying to implement does have a place in the market, but the success of other local agents in the towns where Humberts offices were closed, shows that these areas just weren’t ready to embrace the new way of working.

    There are some hugely talented, devoted staff in Humberts who have given their all to making this new model of agency work. Wishing them all the best for the future.

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  7. mro123432

    What a massive surprise the guy is a clown, such a shame a brand with that kind of reputation has been ruined in 12 months
     
    feel sorry for the staff

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  8. dwood@chantries.net

    Interesting…

    I have never met Matt, have you mre123432?

    With the sales and lettings markets as bad as they are and the cost’s of running offices climbing, it is difficult for most agents, if you just look at the cost of keeping the doors open on a daily basis it’s quiet scary, the sales market has been depressed for several years now, with a little flurry of activity every now and then, I would of thought that most banks would be reluctant to lend any funds to an estate agent in the current market conditions.

    I am not saying the idea of hubs was a good one, we all know they have faults, I guess they were hoping it would save enough on the running costs to help them turn the corner, the business was on its knees when they brought it.

    Good luck to the Humberts staff, I hope you find something else soon.

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  9. Property Pundit

    Batten down the hatches, 2020 is going to be really tough.

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