EYE NEWSFLASH! Fifty-year old high street agency with ten branches to be wound up

A regional high street estate agency that has been trading for 50 years with ten branches is to be wound up.

Howard Cundey, in Sussex, Surrey and Kent, has made nine staff redundant.

The award-winning business, which was bought by its current owners in 2008, will now re-invent itself as solely a hybrid agent – a proposition called Howard Cundey Live, which it launched a year ago.

Director Tim Foulkes said it will operate out of seven ‘hubs’, with a service centre at Lingfield, in Sussex.

Staff headcount is around 30.

Howard Cundey Live charges from £599, with an upfront fee of £975 and a pay later option of £1,500. It also offers a no sale, no fee model.

Foulkes said that as a high street agent, the business had not made changes quickly enough, and that its offices had been expensive overheads.

A statement from the company said: “The Howard Cundey brand is owned by our company, Howard Cundey Property Limited, which operates Howard Cundey Live.

“The Howard Cundey brand is operated under licence by the LLP partnership, which has been going through a period of re-structuring to adapt to the current market of reduced volume and fee competitiveness.

“With hindsight it is with regret that changes were not made at a quicker pace in Howard Cundey LLP meaning that it failed to adapt quickly enough to market forces.

“As a consequence the LLP will not continue trading. Due to this situation the licence afforded to the LLP to use the brand name Howard Cundey has been withdrawn.

“It was hoped that restructuring the LLP over a period of time would enable the business to transition to operate on a lower cost base but due to legacy constraints and a challenging market, events have transpired to work against this ambition.

“Howard Cundey Property Limited has assumed control of the brand and has taken on service delivery for lettings, management and commercial as well as operating Howard Cundey Live, a hybrid agency.

“The resulting LLP shell has no brand or trading base and will therefore cease, with a sensible conclusion through being responsibly wound up and sadly, after much careful deliberation there have been a number of statutory redundancies.

“Although the name of Howard Cundey LLP in the high street will fade away the name will not disappear and Howard Cundey Live (a ‘personal service’ hybrid estate agent available 24/7) as operated by the limited company will continue, covering sales, lettings, property management and commercial in south east London, Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

“Howard Cundey Live has been able to offer employment to a significant proportion of the former LLP workforce, bringing with them experience and loyalty to the brand and its customers.

“The mantra in Howard Cundey Live is to recognise that estate agency is changing at a fast pace.

“Our customers require different levels of service and fee structures and our research shows that very few customers (if indeed any) want to speculatively drop into a high street office to deal with their property sale, letting or purchase.

“Our Live offices are in accessible locations where customers can drop in by appointment so they get the time they deserve without impacting on service, creating a more efficient and effective sales operation, with cost savings for our customers to benefit from.

“Howard Cundey Live was industry recognised as a cutting-edge finalist in the 2018 Property Wire Awards held in London and the brand is set to continue its development, with business as usual.”

 

 

x

Email the story to a friend

40 Comments

  1. smile please

    WOW! – Very sad, some great people and will be a loss to the High Street, only a matter of time until the online proposition follows the High Street offering.

    Report
    1. markcohen27

      look at Humberts and Countrywide, the high street is dying. Change is good and the shake up the industry needs

      Report
      1. smile please

        Well the one thing we all know is hybrid / online is certainly not profitable. All of them being propped up with investors funds. 

        My agency is debt free, no loans, no overdraft, no investors money. All my staff are paid on time along with suppliers and i live a comfortable life.

        I am not alone. Its down to business acumen not about being the cheapest. 

        Report
      2. sanctuary45

        High Street agency is hardly ‘dying’. Some of the larger chains are going to be hit hardest as the market tightens as they have higher overheads – that’s basic economics. But there is little to suggest that they are falling by the wayside as a result of the online listers/call centre ‘agents’. I would argue that as the market continues to toughen up that actually it’s the good high street agents that will massively prosper and the call centre ‘agents’ that will fall by the wayside, as the high street agents have the knowledge of the market, have likely been through the tough markets before, and actually have a list of potential buyers that they can work to find buyers. In a tough market simply sticking it on the internet won’t be enough. I’m not suggesting that there isn’t room for the call centre ‘agents’, but they are far from becoming a dominant force that is putting high street agents out of business.

        Report
        1. htsnom79

          Amen brother

          Report
  2. Eyereaderturnedposter12

    It is very sad to see any hard-working staff feel the negative effects of a downturn in the market/wider economy, as well as an evolving/changing industry…There is certainly more of this to come.

    We too have had to ‘trim’ staff numbers and restructure, to adapt to current market/economic conditions- it always leaves a lump in my throat.

    Some significant financial ‘clout’ will be needed to make any inroads into the online/fixed fee space, having said that…best of luck to Howard Cundey Live, I sincerely hope it is made a success.

    Report
  3. surrey1

    Surely the overheads in village locations aren’t that high? What’s the cost differential between an office and a hub? Why would staff stay to earn a share of a few hundred quid in a Surrey/Sussex marketplace? None of this makes any sense to me.

    Report
    1. MS1

      Agreed. There is much more to it than that.

      Good staff have been leaving for the last 4 years and not replaced, or replaced with trainees. I don’t think this is a direct impact of the market (though that doesn’t help!) but more about how the business is run.

      Report
      1. htsnom79

        Shame, he writes a good presser to be fair…

        Report
        1. smile please

          A certain RG maybe reading this who was working for them up until 6 months ago, good guy. If he is reading maybe he could shed some light?

          Report
  4. RWG2016

    IN LESS THAN 10 YEARS, WE WILL ALL BE OPERATING THIS WAY

     

    Report
    1. surrey1

      If we’re all operating at £1.5k a listing, we won’t be operating at all.

      Report
      1. markcohen27

        thats probably because your overheads are too large and in a shrinking market place you would have to cut costs to survive or open a coffee shop 🙂

        Report
  5. Shaun77

    The onliners are dropping market share, no question. Since the beginning of the year in my patch (part of Surrey), Emoov & Yopa have had less than 1% each of all instructions and PB have slipped from 7% to under 5%, despite the very heavy media spend.

    The top 4 market leaders are all agents who charge higher fees – 1.35% upwards. This belief that the public want cheap agency is a nonsense. What they want is to pay a fee commensurate to the service offered and outcome achieved.

    Report
    1. markcohen27

      Denial is not a river in Egypt my friend. Change is happening and those that stick their head in the sand will become extinct

      Report
      1. sanctuary45

        So if change is happening, how do you explain the figures above, where the call centre listers have lost market share while the market leaders are and continue to be high street agents charging considerably higher fees?

        Report
        1. markcohen27

          err they havent but all stats can be manipulated 

          Report
      2. PeeBee

        OH, NOOOOO….!!

        Another warning of impending extinction.

        This time brought to us by our new poster ‘markcohen27’.

        Look, pal – if I were you I’d read and digest the next sentence.

        If you’re the closest thing to an asteroid that the online world can chuck at us dinosaurs, that is… then if I were you I’d be a whole 5h!tpile more worried that my @r$e will burn to a crisp the instant it touches the upper ionosphere than naively thinking I have a feline in the netherworld’s chance of doing the tiniest bit of damage at Ground Zero.

        lol… to coin your phrase.

        Report
        1. markcohen27

          I’m not knocking high street or any other agent I just think that the perception of the public is and has been changing regarding fees. If you’re still getting away with high fees, we’ll done. There are a lot of areas where they can’t unfortunately

          Report
          1. PeeBee

            Today:

            “I’m not knocking high street or any other agent”

            Yesterday:

            “Well it’s not the high street, no one goes into high street agents much these days, sad but true”

            Care to review today’s claim?

            “If you’re still getting away with high fees, we’ll done.”

            Define “high fees”

            Report
            1. PeeBee

              Just when you have a minute…

              Report
  6. natural_selection

    They’ve panicked and thrown the baby out with the bath water.

    Yes the market is changing, but the agents that are most at risk from onliners are the cheap low end agents.

    HC ‘were’ a mid to high end agency with a strong local brand, so this move makes no sense. In fact HC live are currently advertising a number of properties for sale around the million pound mark, they now need to sell ten properties to make the same money. This is in a market were I personally know other agents are easily achieving at least a 1% fee – even some ex-staff members!

    The market is easy to blame at the moment, however this change is more a reflection of poor management.

    If it’s office/staff overheads they were trying to cut, they will soon find out those outgoings will need to be replaced by advertising costs instead.

    Report
    1. MS1

      Spot on. Purchased in 2008, they negotiated the tough downturn market which then improved from 2011 onwards. This isn’t an agent that should have gone to the wall. Strong local brand, excellent market  share and good staff. So what went wrong?

      This is purely down to how the business was run and the decisions that were made by those in charge. There were some very good staff there, but one by one they left. Staff will be loyal and will work hard for those that motivate them and lead by example. When there is no respect for those in charge then inevitably this is the outcome. This isn’t a result of being slow to change to the market and how the industry operates, this has been coming for the last 4 years.

      Just because you run/own a business doesn’t doesn’t mean you know what you are doing.

      Report
      1. markcohen27

        did you work for them?
         

        Report
  7. Penfold

    Presumably the 7 hubs are the back bedrooms of the 9 staff that are remaining.

    You lot banging on about low fees and talking yourself out of a business need to get a grip.   There is too much noise around this whole sphere at the moment.   One agent was telling me the other day that if he believed his staff that the market was dire he might as well pack up (I’m not stupid enough to realise that clearly its not as easy as it has been, however seasoned agents have been through all of this before).  Sit tight as if you are in the top 3 in your town, rest assured your competitors who’ve only won business on low fees, won’t be around for long.   The market needs a clear out.    The reality this particular agent had was inept staff taking on stock at too much money and blaming the market for it not shifting.   Honest conversations over the last month by the owners of the business rolling their sleeves up and leading from the front means this month they will have a record sales month (well over £100k in arranged sales for one branch – and no it wasn’t a rich South East area). The bigger problem is that probably 85% of estate agency staff have been order taking for too long and never experienced a harder market.   This is the time to shine and prove your fee value.   

    Purplebricks must be laughing all the way to the bank as they’ve hoodwinked vendors to pay out for a service and failing to sell.   If every agent did that the whole economy would be fooked, however there is a massive opportunity to show the disillutioned poorly service PB customer that you can get them moved and it will be worth the fee.   What have they got to lose.   

    Finally let us pray for Howard the Fish – lets hope he’s not been left behind in a green algae fish bowl in this heat!! 

     

     

    Report
    1. sanctuary45

      Well said

      Report
    2. markcohen27

      is Your agency in wales

      Report
      1. Penfold

        South Hampshire

        Report
  8. J1

    Unfortunately they won’t be the last.

    Mid sized privately funded agencies with 10 to 30 offices with high central overheads are the most vulnerable.  Lots are making redundancies and other savings; reducing advertising spend and training and I suspect are worrying about tax and VAT bills that are looming.

    There is a model that is thriving, but it is not this one and not on-line either.

    Report
    1. markcohen27

      Well it’s not the high street, no one goes into high street agents much these days, sad but true

      Report
      1. PeeBee

        With the greatest of respect (ish… sort of…), markcohen27

        B0LL0CKS.

        Report
        1. markcohen27

          peebee unfortunately your your reaction speaks volumes about your intelligence…or lack of lol

          Report
          1. J1

            Peebee is correct I am afraid.  Vendors do, buyers do, tenants do and so do landlords.

            If you are part of your community clients get to know you and like calling in.

            Not many, but th  ones that do reccomed you and support your business.

            So to say that  nobody does, is frankly incorrect.

            Report
            1. markcohen27

              Disillusionment rules eh lads or is that ignorance or arrogance? Can’t decide 🙂

              Report
              1. PeeBee

                I don’t know either.

                Tell you what – I’ll ask every person who walks through the door today.

                They’ll no doubt have an opinion that I give a cr@p about.

                Report
                1. Property Pundit

                  I see we have another resident idiot in our midst. Best not to feed the troll people, look at the ‘platform’ we gave to Domnotnicebutdim and Cyberprat.

                  Report
            2. J1

              I guess some of this depends on how old you are.

              Then again a 30 year old client came in yesterday for a chat as he was on his way to the co-op.

              Some people need helping along and also value relationships.

              The on-line community has little added value; cost savings in some respects, but very little added value.

              High Street presence has its massive advantages for all, but you know what we do what the PB’s of this world do, but lots more besides.

               

              Report
      2. smile please

        Mark if that was true i would not have a dear old lady bringing me home baked cakes every Friday to one of my offices. I simply cannot go to a serviced office for this reason alone 😉

        Report
        1. markcohen27

          lol do you sell coffee too 😉

          Report
  9. Sunbeam175

    We are still charging 2% plus vat whereas most of our competitors are charging sub 1%. Why do twice as much work for the same return? We’ve just learnt how to be strong at selling, to offer a better service, to offer more and DELIVER MORE! No one in their right mind would choose Purplebricks over us or any other cheap agent come to that. Agents need to grow a pair, think about your proposition, put some proper effort in and believe in yourselves.

    Justifying charging cheap fees ‘because the other agents are’ is just weak. Get a grip and fast!

     

    Report
X

You must be logged in to report this comment!

Leave a Reply

Thank you for signing up to our newsletter, we have sent you an email asking you to confirm your subscription. Additionally if you would like to create a free EYE account which allows you to comment on news stories and manage your email subscriptions please enter a password below.