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Estate agency group Countrywide hit by Brexit slow-down

PUBLISHED: 14:25 08 March 2019 | UPDATED: 14:44 08 March 2019

The Countrywide group, which has the Abbotts estate agency brand, has reported losses and a Brexit warning. Pic: Archant.

The Countrywide group, which has the Abbotts estate agency brand, has reported losses and a Brexit warning. Pic: Archant.

One of the UK’s largest estate agency groups, Countrywide, with offices around Norfolk under the Abbotts brand, reported widening full-year losses and issued a Brexit warning.

The Countrywide group reported a bottom line loss of £218.2 million in 2018 compared to £207.3 million of losses the prior year.

Income for the year also tumbled 7% to £627.1 million and adjusted earnings came in 50% down at £32.7 million.

Countrywide warned that Brexit is leading to a slow-down in residential and commercial property transactions, particularly in London and the south, which will impact first-half earnings by up to £5 million.

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While it expects full-year earnings to be in line with 2018, that will be dependent on recovering the first-half shortfall in the final six months of the year.

Boss Peter Long said: “We encountered market weakness in quarter four due to the further uncertainties surrounding Brexit which is affecting both our sector and consumer confidence as a whole. These headwinds have continued into 2019.

“As a result, we are experiencing further slow-down in residential and commercial property transactions particularly in London and the south, which will affect our half one earnings by some £3million-£5 million.”

On a statutory basis, pre-tax losses came in at £252.7 million as the firm was hit by £245.4 million of charges linked to goodwill, intangible and other asset impairments.

Countrywide endured a tough 2018 that saw it tap shareholders as part of an emergency £140 million fundraising plan to put it on a more secure financial footing.

But Mr Long added: “We have been encouraged by the progress made in 2018 in resetting the business as part of our return to growth strategy.”

Under Countrywide, Abbotts have numerous branches across the county including Norwich, Wymondham, Cromer, Thetford, Swaffham, King’s Lynn and more.

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