Property firm closes three offices to make new specialised ‘hubs’

PUBLISHED: 09:00 27 June 2020 | UPDATED: 09:00 27 June 2020

Arnolds Keys in North Walsham. Pic: Arnolds Keys

Arnolds Keys in North Walsham. Pic: Arnolds Keys

A Norfolk estate agency is closing three of its branches in a bid to make its business “more agile”.

Jan Hytch is partner at Arnolds Keys and chairwoman of the NDAEA, Norwich & District Association of Estate Agents. Picture: Arnolds KeysJan Hytch is partner at Arnolds Keys and chairwoman of the NDAEA, Norwich & District Association of Estate Agents. Picture: Arnolds Keys

Arnolds Keys will not be reopening its offices in Wroxham, North Walsham and Cromer, which closed three months ago because of coronavirus.

Eight part-time members of staff were made redundant while others have been relocated within the business, it was confirmed by operations partner Jan Hytch.

The decision to reduce offices comes after the period of lockdown made bosses realise they needed to change and adapt to new ways of working, said Ms Hytch.

She said the days of having “an estate agent office on every street corner were gone” and it didn’t make business sense to have staff manning multiple offices which were situated close to each other. But exacerbating this was coronavirus, she said, because people were more reluctant than ever to go into offices.

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Ms Hytch said Arnolds Keys was still leasing all three offices for the time being which would remain as shop windows for the firm, with properties on display.

“Some estate agents like to puff out their chests and say ‘look how many offices I’ve got, I’ve got six or 10’ but actually it doesn’t mean a lot to the public. What’s better – to have someone sitting in an office waiting for the phone to ring or for someone to come through the door or to have agents out in the field?

“Having a lot of offices is an old fashioned model and we at Arnolds Keys are trying to adapt to what people want which is a faster, more agile business and go to them rather than waiting for them to come to us.”

Ms Hytch said some of the changes would have happened without coronavirus but that lockdown had shown them how convenient working with some technology such as virtual viewings was.

In place of the three offices will be three larger hubs in Norwich, Aylsham and Sheringham, used as the centre of Arnolds Keys’ city, county and coastal property services teams with more staff.

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