Online estate agent Emoov has made a bid to merge with Countrywide, arguing that Britain’s largest estate agent is “on its knees” and needs to take action to survive.
It comes after Countrywide, which owns chains including Hamptons and Gascoigne-Pees, posted its second profit warning of the year after experiencing a subdued property market and a sales pipeline significantly below that of 2017.
This wiped more than £50 million off Countrywide’s stock market value.
“Countrywide is on its knees. They have to do something,” said Emoov founder Russell Quirk.
According to the Financial Mail on Sunday, Quirk renewed overtures he made last October when he initiated merger talks. He proposed that Emoov take shares in Countrywide and combine forces with its 850 high street branches.
Emoov has a valuation of £103 million after merging with online property firms Urban and Tepilo, set up by Channel 4 presenter Sarah Beeny. Emoov, loss-making since it was founded in 2009, expects to post a profit in 2020.
Emoov hopes to list on the AIM market in early 2019, joining rival Purplebricks.
Countrywide, led by chairman Peter Long, has not responded to the proposals. A spokesman said: “We are not in conversations.”
Long, who has been criticised for the number of boardroom positions he holds, announced a “back to basics” recovery plan in March, which included cutting head office staff numbers by a third – the equivalent of 150 jobs.
He has also called for senior branch staff who left during former CEO Alison Platt’s leadership to come back.
Countrywide is forecasting adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of just £44.7 million for the full year – below City forecasts of £51.4 million.