Paul Smith’s annual estate agency review

It’s that time of year when I delve deep into the annual accounts at Companies House to compare how our colleagues in the industry have been doing and what trends are emerging.

The latest complete post-tax figures are for the year ending December 2022 (unless stated) and reflect a tough year for most, with the growth in house prices slowing, political uncertainty and the mini budget in September 2022 all contributing to the decline in transactions.

Here are my findings:

+ The most startling losses were shown by LSL Property Services, swinging from a £61.9m profit in 2021 to a £64.0m loss. The company restructured to a franchise model in 2023 for its 183 branches, including Reeds Rains and Your Move. With a new focus on mortgages and financial services, it will be interesting to see what happens to its estate agency business.

+ Profits dropped at Connells Countrywide by a staggering 42.5% following the acquisition of Countrywide in March 2021. I do wonder if the Curse of Countrywide is striking again. Surely questions need to be asked by the board at its owners Skipton Building Society, which is mutually owned by all its members?

+ Chianti Holdings Ltd (formed from the merger of Linley & Simpson and Lomond Capital) is showing a £19.8m loss, up from a £15.0m loss in 2021. It paid £15.2m in interest costs and had £91.0m bank loans and £73.2m shareholder loans. The problem with building a business on debt is that it has to be paid back!

+ Andrews and Partners lost £2.9m, on the back of a £2.0m loss the previous year, though it said in its accounts that the Andrews Charitable Trust had set aside sufficient financial resources if needed to operate as a going concern.

+ Leaders Romans, which became part of the Platinum Equity portfolio in February 2022 and ultimate parent company, Hadrian Holding Ltd, is showing £39.4m losses for the 10 months ended 31 December 2022. The company has now been refinanced and shows banking facilities drawn, including interest due, of £304.8m. This high level of debt is surely of concern?

As for the online-only and hybrid agents, they have still yet to prove their model:

+ Yopa lost £6.8m – up by 48% on their £4.6m loss in 2021. Group revenue was down from £18.7m to £17.7m. Its accounts reveal a ‘material uncertainty’ about the company’s future as it’s dependent on shareholder funds – including Daily Mail Group Ventures and Grosvenor Hill Ventures. I wonder how much longer these investors will continue to show their support?

+ EasyProperty was returned to the easyGroup following the collapse of Evolve in August 2022. Meanwhile, Doorsteps went into liquidation in November 2022. Online-only agents continue to follow in the footsteps of Emoov, Tepilo, Hatched, House Network and Purplebricks Version 1! When will they learn?

+ Strike’s accounts for year end March 2023 (which is before its purchase of Purplebricks for £1 in June 2023) are due to be filed by the end of April. As for Purplebricks, how they will survive with the “Strike” free model is beyond me. The model isn’t proven, the City doesn’t like it – and the City is normally right.

Which estate agencies are doing better than most?

+ Foxtons shifted from a £6.2m loss in 2021 to a £9.1m profit in 2022. Guy Gittins was appointed CEO in September 2022 to continue its recovery. Lettings grew by 17% and financial services by 8%, suggesting that its strategy to prioritise growth of its non-cyclical revenue worked.

+ Belvoir Group (franchise) had a record year, with 14% revenue growth, making £7.4m profit, £23k up on the previous year, despite an increase in cost of sales and admin costs. Financial services grew 26%, with its number of advisers up 41 to 284.

+ The Property Franchise Group (which recently merged with Belvoir) also showed a sizeable increase, more than doubling its profit from £3.5m profit to £7.2m. The largest element of revenue growth was a £1.3m increase (to £1.7m) of financial service commissions.

This next selection of agents generated a healthy profit, albeit down on the previous year:

+ Savills made £84.5m profit in 2022, compared to £89.2m the previous year, plus recorded £119.8m group-wide, down 18% from £146.7m. Its balance sheets remain strong.

+ Dexters (to September 2022) made £24.1m profit, down 13% from £27.7m. It saw a 15% increase in lettings revenue and spent £6m on acquisitions. It is now part of the Oakley Capital portfolio.

+ Carter Jonas (to April 2023) made £14.0m compared to £19.0m in 2022, largely because its increase in revenue was offset by an £8.6m increase in admin expenses.

+ Chestertons made an £8.3m profit in 2022, down 12% from £9.4m. It saw a 22% increase in lettings, mostly through rental value increases. Estate agency revenues were down by 3% – faring well compared to a 27% market decline in London transactions.

+ Arun (to September 2022) filed a £7.7m profit – almost on a par with 2020 – but down on its record £20.5m profit in 2021.

+ Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward recorded a £3.6m profit – but down by half because of lower revenues.

+ Winkworth (franchise) settled at £2.0m profit, down from £2.6m. Although estate agency revenue was down 12%, it was offset by a lettings increase of 11%.

+ Chancellors dropped from a £3.0m profit to £423k as the £4.1m revenue reduction was met by only £0.9m reduction in costs.

I’ll report on the 2023 accounts once they are all filed. I’m sure most people found 2023 tough, given the 14 consecutive interest rate rises which inevitably impacted borrowing. Those businesses in our sector who amass large debt to finance their operations will continue to suffer.

However, after two challenging years, we’re now seeing the cyclical upturn, ready for a much-improved 2024.


Paul Smith is executive chairman of Spicerhaart



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  1. Robert_May

    TPFG, Arun, Belvoir, Dexters, Carter Jonas – Well done James, Russell, Rob, Ed, Andy, Iain, Lynn, Rhona, Susan, Amy and team; no-one sees the foundations but they’re there and that’s something we can be proud of. Thank you!

    1. Robert_May

      They don’t make SAAS like they used to!

  2. rjclarke20

    Meanwhile, Spicerhaart shows a loss of £5.5m in 2022; down from a profit of £6m in 2021. Just for context.

    1. NW.Landlord

      And he never even mentioned it!

  3. MichaelDay

    All interesting stuff (although a headline snapshot rather than an analysis) complete with the usual “thinly veiled” dig at the Connells Group

    No mention of Spicerhaart who showed losses for 2021 and 2022 when other “major players” were reporting profits.

    With the last year being tougher for everyone, the industry will look forward to seeing the 2023 accounts in due course.

    1. Surrendermonkey

      Spot on Mike! Connells made over £120m in 2021 and whilst his fascination with them causes him to comment on their decline in profits in 2022, he fails to mention that they still made almost £70m profit!!! Meanwhile he seemingly forgets to say that his own business posted losses!!! Perhaps he should be more focussed on his own business than commenting on others, although his article seems to have backfired in drawing attention to Haart’s terrible performance. Feels a bit like the Sheffield United chairman commenting on the performance of the rest of the premier league whilst they sit rock bottom themselves!!

  4. Mrlondon52

    For the Lomond and LRGs of this world, all PE-backed, the figures always look horrendous but they’re growing and growing. It needs a more sophisticated take on their figures from someone that understands how PE finance things, eg huge loans to the trading entity to make sure they don’t make profit!

  5. jan-byers

    Connells profit dropped – poor Andrew Stanton will be in despair he licks theor bottom andtalks about thoer “C suite” all day long lol

  6. Kyran

    If only SpicerHaart ever generated profits! Connells did make £67.5m in 2022, whereas SpicerHaart made losses in both the phenomenal market of 2021 and again in 2022, which was a reasonable market. SpicerHaart feels like a badly managed perennial loss-maker, terminally damaged, and people in glass houses really shouldn’t throw stones.

  7. Andrew Stanton - Proptech Realestate Influencer

    Connells Group had the benefit of a £59M cash fillet from the sale of the TM group which, so obviously the following year would not match the skyhigh profit line from this ‘one off’ windfall. What Connells Group did acquire was the financial services business out of the assets of Countrywide, the market cap of that alone is far greater than the sum total of many ‘large agencies’ including Mr Smith’s. The clear picture is what all agents know, to be a profitable business – residential sale income just about washes its faces – it is the other income streams that provide the jam, from utility switching to conveyancing, surveying and of course financial services revenue.

    The problem for the 82% of agencies which do not have the ‘scale’ of the bigger operations, is they are not multi-layered operations, tending still to focus on agency fee as the main provider of revenue, which in a 20% downturn of completions last year causes problems.

    The really ‘clever’ operations in the agency field are of course those who supply the pick axes and tools to go and dig for gold, but do not carry the burden of ‘owning’ and agency – the franchise clubs. Taking a cut of revenue from self employed agents, in return for branding and an umbrella membership which helps them, is the business to be in. As we see from eXp for example, the cost of running 500 branches is a killer in a downturn or flat market, but taking a slice of everyone in the franchise without carrying huge capital costs, well great work if you can ge it and if the agent fails no loss apart from revenue, which can be plugged by getting a new agent to start.

    1. NHGURU

      what did they pay for CWd or was it free ?

    2. jan-byers

      I knew he had to come on and lick Connells bum LOL
      and Connells pay kids who just left school peanuts
      Make money but I would never use them so sell a mouldy sausage


    It has been a tough ride but all signs look posative for 2024.

    Connells is an interesting one. CWD was either going to be the best deal ever of a complete basket case buy and it certainly looks as if it could become the downfall of a once great comopany.The brains beind the operation Reginald Shipperely bowed out and Livesey also went suddenlty and didnt work out his notice. No one at the helm.

    Id guess that the Skipton who to be fair are doing very well in the Building Society arena would like shot and see it maybe going to someone like Appollo to break it all up and then float it. Appearing in the Times for alledged conditional selling recently is not a good look for Skippy.

    Hats off TPFG, Arun, Belvoir, Dexters, Carter Jonas

    1. Surrendermonkey

      As usual, very keen to comment on Connells Tim but less keen to say anything about the perennial losses within your own business at Haart? Bit like your leader in that regard? Your views are about as accurate as your spelling!

      1. NHGURU

        I dont know about that David all I do know is SHG New Homes buiness is floursihing and 2023 was well up on 2022 which is all going to help

        Sorry about the spelling but you will know I am a tad dyslectic-but then again if Surrendor Monkey is who I think it is then you probably never thougfht to ask

        All I do know is the result was extremely poor and as a % of turnover is dangerously so .IMO and its only IMO

        I hope Connells find an inspirational leader (Edddie Moss as was) who can turn it round and save it .

    2. ManU4Life

      [Sentence removed as it breached posting rules] Your business made a catastrophic loss in 2022 and it was even deeper in 2023. You’ve then resulted to telling your listers that they won’t be paid a penny commission if they list a home at 1.24% or less. This despite making them do their own photos and floor plans, a service most outsource to professionals. Stay in your own lane, pass comment on your own calamitous business and stop looking over the fence at the much greener garden. You’re not part of it any more. Focus all your energies on saving the failing business that you sit on the board of.

      1. NHGURU

        Oh dear oh dear-too many Good Friday Sherrys me thinks.

        Use the long weeked to relax my friend

  9. Gangsta Agent

    why no mention of his own brands……………………………. me thinks he likes the sound of his own voice talking about others

    1. Robert_May

      Pot, kettle, black?

  10. Special Agent 61

    Be interesting to see what happens to Ewemove and Mr and Mrs Clarke post the Belvoir/TPFG merger. They look uncomfortable bed fellows amongst the large portfolio of traditional office based models and neither contribute much to the balance sheet (very little in respect of Mr and Mrs Clarke)
    I’d bet a quid that there’s going to be a sale or two in 2024

  11. ManU4Life

    [Sentence removed as it breached posting rules]

    Talk about more front than Blackpool. To call yourself the largest independent estate agent in the UK and not give a view of your own business in this article shows you for what you are. And that is so far removed from reality that you have no sense of perspective anymore.

    Paul Smith, come and visits some branches. See the hoval that you’re asking your staff to work in. Speak to your employees, see what they really feel working for you instead of taking your view point from a rose tinted perspective given to you by your joint CEO’s (even that’s a joke in itself).

    Spicerhaart is heading for a mighty big iceberg [Sentence removed as it breached posting rules]


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