Countrywide hails 'start of real recovery' as profits surge

 

Countrywide, the UK’s biggest estate agent, has said it saw its best-ever January as buyers flocked to get on the housing ladder.

Posting its first annual results since a return to the stock market a year ago, Countrywide revealed it generated £50.1 million in revenues last month — its best January in 28 years of trading — while profits for the month were the highest since the pre-crunch days 2007.

Countrywide, which owns brands including Abbotts, also said chief executive Grenville Turner is to become chairman after a “lively” eight-year spell in the hot seat, which saw the firm taken private for  £1 billion in 2007 before a refinancing in the wake of the financial crisis before and last March’s float.

Chief financial officer Jim Clarke, who said “he’d like to be considered” for Turner’s job, said: “For estate agents, January is historically a tricky month and often they lose money. But the market had momentum in December and we didn’t see any sign of a slowdown.”

Turner said shareholders had backed his move upstairs, which is against corporate best practice. Better-than-expected 37 per cent growth in underlying earnings last year to £86.6 million will have assuaged some concerns.

He added: “This feels like the start of a real recovery.”

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