OPINION: Connells will struggle while Leaders Romans’ future is thrown into doubt

Paul Smith
Paul Smith

Yesterday I reflected on the state of some well-known online estate agencies, including Purplebricks, but what about some of the large high-street firms?

Here are more of my predictions for 2022.

  1. Connells will struggle to integrate Countrywide

I predict that Connells Sequence will continue to suffer indigestion in trying to integrate Countrywide & ‘Connellise’ them. They will continue to see big name departures. Only time will tell if Countrywide will bring Connells down to their level or Connells can drag this tanker into their profit model. I believe they will embark on some massive cost cutting in line with a leaner business.

  1. Is Leaders Romans’ future in question?

Will Leaders Romans survive another year or be broken up and sold off in pieces? The company lost £40.5m last year, following a loss of £43.8m the previous year, with its debt mountain now standing at £289m, costing the business £33m a year in interest. That’s a mighty mountain to climb. Its main profit is its lettings book so will they pull out of estate agency sales and focus on lettings? Or will they float? My prediction here is that this time next year, they won’t look like they do today.

  1. The Lomond Group

The Lomond Group, which brought together Lomond Capital and Linley & Simpson, seem to have plenty of money to throw at estate agency as they grow their portfolio, but I’m not sure if the industry has really taken on board their game plan. Equity backers are normally in it for short term gain before they want their money back. What does that look like in the market and will it mean consolidating branches to become more profitable? It was reported by Sky News that they’re in the market to buy Chestertons, which was put on the market for £100m, thought I can’t see it fetching that price. What other businesses are ripe for the picking? Arun Estates or Kinleigh Folkard and Hayward perhaps? They’re clearly on a mission and are one to watch in the industry.

  1. Cashing in on the good times

I’ve never known so many good independent estate agency businesses on the market as there are at the moment, with balance sheets buoyed by the government’s financial support during the early days of the pandemic, alongside the Stamp Duty holiday profit bonanza. Many of those approaching us to buy their business are people who are choosing to retire and cash in while they can. However, many have an inflated sense of what their businesses are worth and I foresee those selling won’t get anywhere near what they’re looking for.

I always look back at my previous year’s predictions to see what I got right or whether I was wide of the mark and I’m pleased to say I was pretty spot on last year except for unemployment rates. Thankfully, they’re nowhere near as bad as had been predicted by economists. I wish you a happy and healthy 2022 and hope that your businesses continue to prosper in these uncertain times.

Paul Smith is chief executive officer of Spicerhaart. 

Property Industry Eye has offered Connells, Leaders Romans Group and The Lomond Group an opportunity to respond.

Chestertons, KFH and Arun Estates have also been invited to comment. 

 

OPINION: Could we be seeing the death knell of Purplebricks?

 

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12 Comments

  1. Robert_May

    Isn’t it strange how we all view things differently.  If there are 3 people who can do something with Countrywide more than anyone else in the industry it is David L , David P and Anthony G.

     

    Agency is about #local people doing a good job #locally, restoring morale with strong and clear leadership is one of the easiest business wins.  CW staff were taken to a dark place  and it doesn’t need to be difficult to get then firing on all cylinders again.

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  2. Barnabus

    Blimey, has this guy been on the leftover mulled wine in the last 48 hours? Business’s like Arun and KFH are in a completely different league to him, his organisation, and his very lofty opinions.

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    1. Homestead38

      Not sure why PIE continues to give PS the airtime to cast his opinions and throw stones to distract from the goings on in his own business.

      In the coming months I am sure that Connells will demonstrate what strong and clear leadership can deliver. From what I see there are no signs of indigestion and its seems to be the complete opposite – branch network maintained, jobs created rather than large scale redundancies, their branches do not appear to be have been distracted by the integration of the businesses and seem to be as focused as ever.

      I would be surprised if Connells results show any signs of suffering as everything is pointing to a textbook acquisition by an astute team that understand their business and the market.

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  3. Certus

    Haart unemployment levels were high, the manner of people being let go was shameful

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  4. Kyran

    Is this April the first, or just a wind up?  People living in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones!

    If any of the above comes true then Haart are history – especially given the way they have treated their people during the pandemic.

     

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  5. Tornado

    I actually find myself agreeing with most of these thoughts. When you look at the current ownership of some of the businesses referred to it is clear that a sale must be a consideration. I also can’t see how long Leaders can continue to run with such huge debt – we shall see. I am also certain that the Countrywide integration will be a bumpy road and we will definitely see an erosion of branches – they carried so many poor performers. Having spoken to many people within spicerhaart it is also clear that they have some very positive things happening and have turned a very important corner.

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  6. AcornsRNuts

    My prediction Paul Smith, chief executive officer of Spicerhaart, will lay off yet more staff before Christmas 2022.

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  7. Jon Hunt

    So what’s the next scandal you’re predicting unfolding on The Negotiator at SH?

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  8. Jon Hunt

    Where did you find this out Legallandlord?

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  9. Agencywatcher

    Coming from Paul Smith !!!!!!!!

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