The triumvirate at the top of troubled estate agency group Countrywide have each bought shares in the firm at market prices following last year’s disastrous results.
Executive chairman Peter Long has bought 200,000 shares at 79.8p each. He now holds 571,429 shares altogether.
Chief financial officer Himanshu Raja has bought 100,000 shares at 88p. He now has 344,841 shares, excluding outstanding options and/or awards held under the company’s share incentive scheme for its employees.
Paul Creffield, the group operations director, has bought 100,000 shares at 83p. He now holds 454,742 shares, excluding employee share incentives.
A statement to the London stock exchange said of the share acquisitions: “This underpins their belief in the business and further demonstrates their commitment to leading the recovery.”
The announcement of the purchases was made on Friday afternoon. But despite the directors’ show of confidence, the shares ended the day 5% down at around 83p.
Last year, Countrywide chalked up losses of over £200m.
Separately, rumours are swirling about the further pain – to which Countrywide alluded in its results – the company will undergo as it unravels the ‘retail’ policy of the Alison Platt regime and ‘gets back to basics’, with speculation of more redundancies and office closures.
Countrywide has already said that it is looking to make 150 out of its 450 jobs at its head office redundant. However, it has also hinted that it will happily re-hire agents who left under the previous regime and said it will restore power to branches as it reverts to a ‘back to basics’ approach and today Keith Knight re-joins, from Arun Estates, as managing director for sales and lettings in the south east. He left Countrywide after 14 years in 2016 when his job title was that of a ‘retail director’.
More former staff seem likely to re-join soon.
Meanwhile, the big questions seem to be whether Countrywide will sell any of its brands, and whether it will chop branches in areas where it has more than one brand.