For the former United States-based mortgage loan and financial services company, see Countrywide Financial

Countrywide PLC is the United Kingdom's largest property group, including residential property surveying, a collaboration of estate agents, and corporate services.[3] It employs circa 10,000 personnel nationwide, working across 850+ estate agency or lettings offices operating under 65+ local high street brands, supplemented by 650 mortgage consultants.[2] Countrywide is listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Countrywide plc
Traded asLSECWD
IndustryEstate agents
HeadquartersChelmsford, Essex
Key people
Peter Long (executive chairman), Himanshu Raja (CFO), Paul Creffield (Group Managing Director).
Revenue£ 627 million (2018)[1]
£ 4.7 million (2018)[1]
£ -218 million (2018)[1]
Number of employees
10,000 (2018)[2]


In 1986, financial services company Hambros plc, having de-merged its banking arm, acquired two estate agents, Bairstow Eves and Mann & Co, to form a new company called Hambro Countrywide plc, which was listed on the London Stock Exchange. In 1988, the company created Hambro Assured, then the UK's largest life insurance broker. The group then grew through acquisition, buying Nationwide estate agents and surveyors from Nationwide Building Society in 1994, Spencers from National and Provincial Building Society in 1995 and London firms Faron Sutaria, PKL and John D Wood & Co. in 1997.

In 1998 the business was renamed Countrywide Assured plc and demerged from Hambros plc. After creating a franchise opportunity under the Bairstow Eves brand, the group then restarted its acquisition trail acquiring Friends Provident estate agents and surveyors (in return for a long term licence to resell Friends Provident financial products) in August 2002. Friends Provident Estate Agencies operated 104 offices across the South of England, trading as: Fulfords, Chappell & Matthews, Palmer Snell and Carson & Company and had been acquired by Friends Provident as an 80-strong chain in 1998 as part of their takeover of London and Manchester plc.[4][5]

The life assurance business was demerged as Chesnara plc in May 2004.[6]

In 2004 it acquired Freeman Foreman group[7] as well as the estate agency business of Bradford and Bingley Building Society.[8] This business had been originally formed as Black Horse Agencies Group by Lloyds Bank in 1982, and purchased as 370 strong chain (including TSB Property Services and Slater Hogg & Howison) by Bradford and Bingley from the then owners Lloyds TSB in April 1998.[9] Slater Hogg & Howison had been acquired by TSB Scotland in 1988[10] having been established in 1975 by Roy Slater, Iain Hogg and Geoff Howison.[11] The Black Horse name was dropped by Bradford and Bingley in 1999.[12]

In 2007, Countrywide was 100% acquired by Apollo Management for a sum over £1bn,[13] and de-listed from the London Stock Exchange. Following debt restructuring, the owners included Apollo Management, Oaktree Capital Management and Alchemy Partners.[14]

In March 2013, Countrywide plc was re-listed on the London Stock Exchange.[15]

In November 2013, Countrywide acquired national commercial property consultancy Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH).[16]

Countrywide acquired the southwest Wales estate agency John Francis in 2015.[17]

In January 2018, an unscheduled profits warning sent Countrywide's share price plummeting by nearly 19 per cent,[18] and CEO Alison Platt stepped down, to be replaced by Peter Long, appointed executive chairman until a new CEO is found.[19]

In August 2018, the share price fell by 60% after an emergency cash call (in the form of a rights issue), and after having downgrading profit forecasts four times in eight months.[20]



  1. ^ a b c "Annual Results 2018" (PDF). Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  2. ^ a b Retrieved 28 March 2018. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ "Top 50 League Table of Residential Estate Agency Offices". January 2009. Retrieved 2010-12-03.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Cicutti, Nic. "Friends set for pounds 750m L&M takeover". The Independent, 18 August 1998. Available online at [1]. Accessed 4 June 2019.
  5. ^ "Friends Provident plc Secures Exclusive Distribution Agreement with UK's Leading Estate Agency Group". RNS Press Release, 22 August 2002. Available online at [2]. Accessed 4 June 2019.
  6. ^ "Welcome to Chesnara plc". Chesnara plc. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  7. ^ "Countrywide has acquired Freeman Forman". Business Sale. 20 August 2004. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  8. ^ "Leicester Independent Surveyors". Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  9. ^ "New Stable for Black Horse". The Argus, 3 April 1998. Available online at [3]. Accessed 28 April 2017.
  10. ^ Thickett, Robert. "50 years in finance". Mortgage Strategy, 12 November 2012. Available online at [4]. Accessed 28 April 2017.
  11. ^ "Founder calls for buyout at Slater Hogg Howison". The Scotsman, 23 May 2004. Available online at [5]. Accessed 28 April 2017.
  12. ^ "Bradford & Bingley to modernise image". Design Week, 8 May 1998. Available online at [6]. Accessed 28 April 2017.
  13. ^ Helen Power (1 April 2007). "Battle rages for Britain's biggest estate agent". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2010-12-03.
  14. ^ "About Us". Countrywide. Retrieved 2010-12-03.
  15. ^ "Banks provide £100m of post-IPO financing for Countrywide plc". HSBC. 10 April 2013. Archived from the original on 21 April 2013. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  16. ^ "Countrywide snaps up Lambert Smith Hampton". Business Sale Report. Retrieved 2019-03-04.
  17. ^ "Estate agent to benefit from takeover". Pembrokeshire Herald. 13 November 2015. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  18. ^ Narwan, Gurpreet (19 January 2018). "Countrywide facing tough repair job after profit warning". Times. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  19. ^ Monaghan, Angela (24 January 2018). "Countrywide boss resigns as shares hit new low". Guardian. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  20. ^ Davies, Rob (2 August 2018). "Countrywide shares plunge 60% after emergency cash call". the Guardian. Retrieved 3 August 2018.

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