Spicerhaart has closed its offices temporarily during the coronavirus crisis and confirmed that some will not re-open in the foreseeable future. It has laid off a number of staff.
Exact numbers have not been revealed yet by Spicerhaart but are thought to be significant.
One person claimed to EYE that the first staff knew was when the computers in the offices went down, saying: “No one was made aware of this and most branches found out by their computers going into lock-down giving us no access to data or the phone system.
“Within ten minutes of this happening we had a phone call from the area manager informing us that in fact our branches had been shut down and all made redundant.”
However a Spicerhaart spokesperson said this morning that the reason computers went off in branches yesterday was because staff were about to take them off the premises in order to work from home.
CEO Paul Smith said last night: “As the UK’s largest independent estate agency group, we have worked swiftly to address the impact of coronavirus on our business by temporarily closing our branches and giving our workforce the equipment and resources they need to work from home.
“This will ensure we continue to give excellent advice and support to customers across our estate agency, lettings, mortgages, surveying plus land and new homes divisions.
“We have also worked judiciously to identify cost reductions across the business and this inevitably means that some of our branches will not be re-opening in the foreseeable future and this, very regrettably, has meant that we have had to lay off some of our staff. Their workload will be taken over by employees from other branches.
“We are desperately sorry to see these people go, but the best way for us to stay strong as a business during this very challenging and unpredictable time is to take action early in order to secure our long term future.
“We are disappointed that the Chancellor did not extend the business rates payment holiday to estate agents as he has done to retailers and the impact of this will be to ensure that high streets up and down the land will have even more empty shops than ever before.
“However, new opportunities will arise out of adversity and new ways of working will become the norm as the estate agency profession gears up for one of the biggest challenges we have collectively ever faced.”