Lee Wainwright, a senior Managing Director for Countrywide has jumped ship and moved to controversial hybrid agent Purplebricks as their new Operations Director.
Wainwright was a Countrywide veteran, spending his entire 27-year career at the troubled agency.
A spokesperson for Purplebricks said, “We are pleased to confirm that Lee Wainwright has joined our business as operations director. He’s a strong addition to our management team and has the drive, commitment and enthusiasm to help us grow our brand and offer our customers an even better service.” Purplebricks also added that, “Lee has a first rate reputation in the industry and we will continue to recruit first class people to our collective business.”
There have been a number of high-level exits from Countrywide in recent months – Marketing Director Helen Normoyle and Finance Director Vince Corley both left the company recently, as the firm makes concerted efforts to restructure their client offering to try and combat the online and hybrid space.
They now offer a hybrid online option to customers, which has (according to them) been a resounding success, however this hasn’t helped the beleaguered agent’s market performance.
Countrywide’s pre-tax profits fell by over half last year to £19.5m, down from an impressive £47.7m the year prior.
The brand has seen astronomical success since launching just a few years ago; it now has a market cap of a mind-boggling £740 million and is rolling out a new ‘commisery’ marketing campaign, as seen on their prime time TV adverts.
The firm’s CEO Michael Bruce is never far from controversy and last year claimed:
“Virtually nobody goes into a high street agent’s office, and haven’t done since Rightmove and Zoopla came into existence. They’re nothing but a high street presence, a face for their brand.”
DMZ can see no end to the turmoil at Countrywide.
The firm employ’s a massive 12,000 people across the UK and boast they’re still “the largest estate agency and lettings network” in the country. The firms infrastructure and brand is impressive, but we predict further cuts on both staff and marketing spend in the coming months and years – it simply isn’t possible for competing giants like Countrywide and Purplebricks to co-exist at their current sizes, and right now Purplebricks seem to be eating Countrywide’s breakfast.
Even in the shadow of this potential downsizing, DealMakerz still believe Countrywide is undervalued and we retain a long term positive outlook on the firm. The company is aware it has been overstretched and closed 200 branches, around 20pc of its network over the past 2 years. We suggest Countrywide look to acquire an emerging hybrid agency to speed up their diversified offering – the property grandee simply cannot afford to be left behind.