I Quit! Two Senior Director’s Resign From Countrywide As Firm Feels The Strain

Two Senior Director’s at the UK’s largest estate agent, Countrywide, have quit within the past few weeks.

Chief Marketing Officer Helen Normoyle resigned from her position at the troubled agency this week after less than a year in the role. The news came hot off the heels of the news that Vince Corley, a Director and one of the longest-standing senior figures at the company, announced he would be jumping ship after 13 years at the firm.

Normoyle joined Countrywide last year with a strong CV; previous roles included Director of Marketing at the BBC, Director of Market Research at OFCOM and Chief Marketing Officer at sofa company DFS.

Both executives were part of a broader business plan at Countrywide to create a high-flying set of Senior Directors to steer the firm through what are potentially disruptive times.

CEO of Countrywide Alison Platt has been the driving force behind a concerted hiring spree, helicoptering in executives from outside the property sector to her senior management team. In addition to Normoyle, Group HR Director Kate Brown joined from BUPA, MD of Financial Services Peter Curran joined from Lloyds and MD of Retail Sam Tyrer joined from Dixons. 

A spokesperson for Countrywide yesterday said, “we can confirm that Helen Normoyle will be leaving Countrywide at the end of February, to join Boots UK & Republic of Ireland as marketing director.”

“During her time with us Helen has made a significant impact, creating a strong integrated marketing department which leaves us in good stead going forward. We wish Helen all the best and thank her for her valuable contribution to Countrywide.”

Countrywide’s share price is nearing an all time low, despite generating a net profit of £41million in 2015

The agency has been hit on the financial markets by a number of difficulties, namely their exposure to ‘traditional’ elements of the business, owning or leasing more offices than any other estate agent in the UK.

In late 2016 Normoyle announced the firm would be offering a hybrid option to buyers, which was then rolled out to a quarter of all Countrywide branches due to its successful launch. This move came after fierce competition from online disruptor Purplebricks who recently surpassed a market cap of £500million only 3 years after its inception as a company, giving the Bruce brothers a total net worth of over £100million.

Entrepreneurial brothers Michael (left) and Kenny Bruce founded Purplebricks in 2014

DMZ can only muster as to the reasoning behind these senior departures. For Countrywide’s sake we hope they are independent to each other and not part of a broader structural problem within the firm.

We have spoken before about the battering Countrywide’s share price has taken over the past year and retain our positive outlook on the firms, and other traditional estate agents, prospects. Despite the continual staff turnover the business fundamentals remain strong and by (finally) embracing evolving consumer needs by offering a hybrid option they’re generating much needed diversification.

DealMakerz suggests that in addition to hiring from consumer and financial businesses, Countrywide look to a Tech Titan to replace their Chief Marketing Officer. Established tech giants like Google, Facebook, Snapchat and Microsoft are farms for entrepreneurial executives who could help transform and update their business.

With a staff of 12,000 nationwide, there’s a lot riding on the next senior hire at the firm – let’s hope for the industries sake it will be a progressive one.

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