Property Franchise Group brand snaps up another independent agency

June 7, 2019

A branch of national agency Parkers has bolstered its managed portfolio by acquiring independent company Samuel James.

Parkers’ Reading branch has also taken on six staff from Samuel James.

Parkers is one six brands under the Property Franchise Group umbrella, and Reading branch owner Craig Pearson – who also owns Parkers offices in nearby Woodley and Earley – says: “It was important to the owner that he found a buyer to continue looking after his clients as well as his current staff.

Related: Property and Estate Agent Franchises UK – What Buying an Estate Agency Franchise Means for UK Franchisees

“We were extremely pleased and proud that we were seen as the agency to do all that based on our ethos and care for our existing clients.”

Pearson joined the brand as a sales negotiator in Bracknell in 1993 and has been branch manager at Reading since 1996; he purchased it in 1999.

Xperience and Whitegates managing director Kate Toland says: “Craig has always been extremely forward-thinking and hugely ambitious and I’m delighted to see this latest acquisition cross the finish line. He has built a superb team across three branches and the clients acquired from Samuel James will now benefit from that team’s superb levels of service and vast experience of the local area.”

Related: Property & Estate Agency – Search Franchise Reviews Directory

Source: Letting Agent Today

Property Franchise Group sees ‘material’ results improvement

February 9, 2019

The Property Franchise Group said it expected to report a ‘material’ improvement in its annual results, in line with market expectations.

The company said its hybrid brand, EweMove, had traded profitably throughout the year and would show a significant improvement over 2017.

‘Consequently, the company expects to report trading for 2018 in line with market expectations and to show a material improvement on 2017 with enhanced margins,’ it said.

Revenue for the year through December rose 10% to £11.2m, while management service fees increased by 14% to £9.5m.

‘The early signs are that 2019 will be another challenging year for the property market with ongoing Brexit uncertainty having the potential to dampen sales transaction volumes,’ Property Franchise Group said.

Related: Property and Estate Agent Franchises UK – What Buying an Estate Agency Franchise Means for UK Franchisees

‘The tenant fee ban, due for introduction on 1st June 2019 in England was previously anticipated in April 2019 and whilst it will reduce the group’s lettings revenues by around £0.5m in 2019, this impact will be less than anticipated.’

‘Overall, despite the challenges ahead, the group’s strong balance sheet and well-balanced exposure to certain opportunities which exist in a changing property marketplace gives the board confidence for the year ahead.’

Source: Shares Magazine

Property Franchise Group brand snaps up independent agency’s lets

January 5, 2019

Oxfordshire sales and lettings agency Parkers – one of the brands of The Property Franchise Group – has snapped up the managed units run by independent agent Robert Taylor Estate Agents.

Parkers Witney, a second generation family business recently rebranded from Martin & Co to Parkers, took on Robert Taylor’s portfolio of properties from the New Year.

Robert Taylor, based in Carterton, is Parkers Witney’s second major acquisition in four months after managing director Brendan Kay led the purchase of Oliver James (Witney) in September.

Related: Look who’s buying: Property Franchise Group sets new record for acquisitions

“We’re delighted to be taking on Robert Taylor’s portfolio of managed properties. It completes quite a year for us having already brought in Oliver James’s clients and rebranded as Parkers” explains Kay.

Related: Property and Estate Agent Franchises UK – What Buying an Estate Agency Franchise Means for UK Franchisees

Parkers Witney describes itself as the only agent in West Oxfordshire to be awarded an ‘Exceptional’ grading for both sales and lettings in the 2019 Best Estate Agent Guide and was ranked among the top 10 estate agencies in the UK by the Property Academy’s EA Masters survey in 2018.

Source: Letting Agent Today

The Property Franchise Group snaps up city independent agency

October 30, 2018

A branch of The Property Franchise Group’s CJ Hole brand in Bristol has snapped up an independent lettings agency elsewhere in the city.

As well as taking on Piper Property’s portfolio of over 150 managed properties, four staff members of The Property Franchise Group have also been transferred along with the Piper premises on Church Road, which is now branded as CJ Hole Redfield.

Related: Look who’s buying: Property Franchise Group sets new record for acquisitions

CJ Hole Redfield owner Chris Hill now has seven offices in the Bristol area and has more than three decades of experience in the sales and lettings sector, over 20 of them with CJ Hole.

“Each office specialises in both sales and lettings and has a dedicated in-house property management team overseeing the portfolios” says Hill.

Related: Property and Estate Agent Franchises UK – What Buying an Estate Agency Franchise Means for UK Franchisees

“Our portfolio of managed properties before the Piper Property acquisition was around 800 across all the branches, but is now in the region of 950.”

Source: Letting Agent Today

Property Franchise Expects Second-Half Performance Ahead Of First

September 12, 2018

Property Franchise Group PLC said Wednesday it expects its second-half performance to be ahead of the first, despite bracing for headwinds in 2019 due to Brexit and UK tax and regulatory changes.

For the six months to June 30, the multi-brand lettings and estate agency franchising company posted pretax profit down to GBP1.9 million from GBP2.1 million a year ago, as the prior year included a net exceptional gain of GBP679,146.

Meanwhile, revenue increased by 17% year-on-year to GBP5.5 million from GBP4.7 million.

Chief Executive Officer Ian Wilson said: “We are pleased to have delivered another strong set of results, with all of our brands, including our challenger online brand, EweMove, improving revenue over the same period last year.”

Related: Property Franchise Group brand snaps up independent agency’s lets

Property Franchise’s brands include Ellis & Co, EweMove, CJ Hole, Parkers, and Whitegates.

The company increased its proposed interim dividend by 14% to 2.4 pence per share from 2.1p a year ago.

Management service fees rose by 15% year-on-year to GBP4.4 million, while the group entered a net cash position of around GBP500,000 compared to GBP700,000 of debt a year prior.

Property Franchise said it is seeing “early indicators” of a stronger second half trading as it believes it is “well-positioned to outperform our competitors, increase market share and to deliver growth in value for all our stakeholders over the long term”.

Despite the positive outlook for the remainder of the year, Property Franchise said it expects headwinds in 2019 due to a negative sentiment associated with the UK’s exit from the European Union “causing homeowners to postpone home moves”.

Reductions in tax reliefs and rising rent rates also are causing negative sentiment among buy-to-let landlords, the company said. It added it expects a GBP750,000 blow to its 2019 revenue due to the UK government’s proposed tenant fee ban.

Property Franchise shares were trading up 3.7% at 141.00 pence each on Wednesday.

Source: Morningstar

Two-thirds of Property Franchise Group now on OTM, reveals chief executive who initially advised against it

August 21, 2018

Two-thirds of offices at The Property Franchise Group are now listing their properties at OnTheMarket, chief executive Ian Wilson has revealed.

He said: “I made no secret of it that I was not a fan when it launched. I actually advised our franchisees not to participate at launch.

“I thought it was not a good enough reason for agents to get together to have a pop at Rightmove – there had to be something in it for the consumer.”

However, a meeting with OTM chief executive Ian Springett persuaded Wilson that his franchisees might benefit by giving it a try – especially as it would be free.

Were all The Property Franchise Group’s offices to sign up to OTM – with a probable sweetener of free shares – it would be a major coup for the portal, to recruit what looks like its second biggest group after Spicerhaart.

Wilson said there was evidence that the launch of OTM has made no difference to Rightmove’s pricing plans, with increases continuing in line with what they were before the OTM launch.

Related: The Property Franchise Group snaps up city independent agency

However, there was evidence that Zoopla had had to ‘soften’ its own pricing ambitions.

Wilson says that offices now on OTM are averaging 50 leads from it per month.

Were the franchisees paying – and the large majority are not – Wilson says this would equate to £6 per lead.

He said: “What we cannot tell is whether these are unique leads or duplicates.

“However, we have a new group CRM system being switched on in September, from which we will be able to see whether leads we get from Rightmove, Zoopla and OTM are unique or duplicates.

“By next spring, we will be able to trace back each sale and each let back to the lead, and to which portal that lead came from.

“That information will help us decide whether OTM, charging around £300 a month, will be worth continuing with.

“We will be able to provide our francisees with fact-based evidence showing which portal produces the cheapest leads, which produces the highest proportion of unique leads, and which portal produces the most leads resulting in a sale or let.”

Wilson said that franchisees who sign up after a free trial could be in line for free shares in OTM.

He told EYE: “OTM has £36m of free shares to give away.” He said that the prospect of equity in OTM could be a compelling proposition for franchisees.

In a twist, though, it has emerged that some early OTM adopters in the group’s Xperience and Whitegates brands are in contractual disputes.

Wilson believes these can be overcome, given OTM’s clear enthusiasm to recruit a group of some 300 franchisees.

Wilson said he is concerned that Rightmove’s prices will continue to rise.

He said that, because of his firm’s group buying power, The Property Franchise Group pays less than the average £1,100 charged to small independents.

But, Wilson said, if because of poor market conditions and loss of income from the tenant fee ban, smaller agents go out of business, Rightmove could make up the lost revenue by reducing the volume discount.

Source: Property Industry Eye

Look who’s buying: Property Franchise Group sets new record for acquisitions

August 17, 2018

The Property Franchise Group has helped its franchisees make more acquisitions so far this year than for the whole of 2017. It has also announced ambitious  plans for next year.

The group, owners of Martin & Co, Whitegates, CJ Hole, Ellis & Co, Parkers and EweMove has assisted its franchisees to acquire 16 portfolios and a total of 2,107 tenanted managed properties this year. The numbers are set to grow between now and the end of the year.

Group CEO Ian Wilson said: “We have offers agreed on another 1,139 managed properties, so we should comfortably exceed 3,000 properties added to the portfolio in 2018, and we want to build on this and add another 4,000 in 2019.”

Wilson said that the Group assists its franchisees to target businesses, negotiate the sale and ensure that there is funding for completion.

He added: “Uniquely we pay cashback to our franchisees to reward them for expanding their business. This is extremely helpful to meet their immediate cash flow demands following an acquisition, as there can be unexpected bills to pay.

“From the sellers’ point of view, they want to know that the deal will go through and that their landlords and staff will be looked after. We can provide that reassurance with our dedicated specialist acquisition team.”

The Property Franchise Group retains as its broker Sharon Titchmarsh, trading as Watson Stanley. She is the former acquisitions director at Countrywide.

Wilson said: “The smallest deal was a bolt-on portfolio of 24 properties purchased from Nidderdale Properties in Harrogate.

The biggest deal was 346 properties purchased from Castle Estates in Sheffield. Close to our Bournemouth head fffice, we helped Philip Skorochod buy a portfolio of 162 properties from Paris Lettings.

“You have to hand it to Philip, he only bought the franchise in April 2018 and he wants to buy more.

Related: Property Franchise Group revenue up 11% in first half

“Our franchisee Julian Bessey bought a student lettings business, A Home 4 Students, in Winchester and geographically, to date, we have bought in every region except London and Scotland, which is frustrating as we have buyers actively looking.

“A number of the transactions have been share sales which can be tax-efficient for sellers as they pay tax as low as 10% on their capital gain. Four brands have been active buyers so far this year – Martin & Co is unsurprisingly the most active, but so too has CJ Hole, Whitegates, and EweMove.”

The business would not reveal the total number of properties under management to EYE, saying this is commercially sensitive information.

Separately, the Leaders Romans Group has announced the completion of another acquisition – GPS Property Management, in Ravenshead, Nottinghamshire – and, like The Property Franchise Group,  has made it clear it wants to buy more.

The business, acquired for an undisclosed sum, has been owned and run by husband and wife team Garry and Sarah Peacock for the last eight years.

The business will rebrand to Leaders, offering both sales and lettings services. The original GPS Property Management staff will stay on.

Matthew Light, group mergers and acquisitions director, said: “Recent months have seen us continue to expand with numerous acquisitions, adding several new portfolios and branches in key markets across the UK.

“We are delighted to have acquired this well-respected business and we welcome its staff members.”

He made it clear that he welcomes approaches from agents interested in selling up.

Leaders Romans has now acquired some 150 businesses, bringing outlets to over 160 branches, with 50,000 rental properties under management, and annual revenues of over £120m.

The group is backed by private equity firm Bowmark Capital.

Source: Property Industry Eye

Property Franchise Group revenue up 11% in first half

August 3, 2018

The Property Franchise Group said it boosted revenue by 11% in the first half amid a rise in management services fees.

Revenue for the six months through June rose to £5.3m, as management service fees jumped 15% to £4.4m.

Total tenanted properties served rose 6% to around 53,000.

Related: Property Franchise Group brand snaps up independent agency’s lets

At 30 June, the company had net cash of around £0.5m, compared to net debt of £0.7m at the same period last year.

‘Consequently, the board is confident that trading continues to be in line with market expectations for the full financial year ending 31 December,’ Property Franchise Group said. ‘We are pleased to deliver revenue growth across all five of our high street brands and also our online brand, EweMove,’ chief executive Ian Wilson said.

Source: Stockmarket Wire

Small is beautiful in our eyes, says Property Franchise Group as it sets out plans to buy as many businesses as it can

May 12, 2018

The Property Franchise Group has said it wants to acquire as many businesses as possible – no matter what their size.

It made its strategy clear after one of its franchisees, Emma Higgins of Martin & Co Yeovil, bought a portfolio of 185 tenanted managed properties from local agents Home-Bridge Property.

TPFG has a policy of assisting its business owners with acquisitions.

Related: Property Franchise Group revenue up 11% in first half

Higgins, a former naval officer, cold-started her Martin & Co business in 2012, close to Yeovilton Naval Air Base.

TPFG chief executive Ian Wilson said: “This is another acquisition for The Property Franchise Group – we have purchased portfolios of 1,200 tenanted managed properties already this year, and we have sales agreed on another 1,400.

“Our strategy is to acquire as many businesses as possible over the next two years, and unlike the big corporates who have minimum size limits, our franchisees can take any size of business from 30 managed and up to 600 managed properties and beyond”

Source: Property Industry Eye

Mass exit from market predicted as legislation bites – ‘some of my own franchisees won’t survive’

April 12, 2018

The boss of the UK’s biggest property franchising network, The Property Franchise Group, says some of his own franchisees will not survive, and that between a quarter and a third of all agents are in jeopardy.

And the head of the second largest franchising firm, Belvoir, said it is getting on average one unsolicited approach a day from an agency owner looking to sell up.

Ian Wilson, CEO of TPFG, told EYE that his warning about firms going out of business applied to both sales and lettings.

He said: “There is going to be a clear-out of the industry.”

He said legislative clampdowns would add significant costs to agents. There was also the threat from online agents with low overheads.

He said: “We understand that some of our franchisees will not survive. I think that there are about 20 Martin & Co businesses in this category. We believe our traditional branch network will be neutral this year in terms of numbers, and that in 2019 there may actually be a reduction.”

The lettings fee ban was a real danger, and he said there were certain triggers that could threaten the future for an agent.

He said that there are around 1.2m sales annually, and 25,000 branches. The sales business was predicated on just one sale a week per outlet, while “lettings is all about volume”.

He said danger signs were when a business has fewer than 120 properties under management and is 90% reliant on lettings income.

Wilson said: “It is why, as a business, we are doing the things we are doing – encouraging our traditional agents to fight back, and to scale EweMove.”

Wilson also revealed that TPFG is now centrally recruiting Local Property Experts to work in the field: “If they can list ten properties a month and sell six, that gives them an income of £60,000 a year.”

Related: Revenues pass £10m at Property Franchise Group

Meanwhile Belvoir boss Dorian Gonsalves is looking to help grow his franchisees’ businesses.

He said that the company’s assisted acquisition programme – which helps franchisees acquire local competitors – is set to double this year.

Gonsalves said: “There are currently 17 deals in the pipeline, and an additional 74 franchisees have funding in place and are looking for their ideal targets.

“There will be consolidation in the industry and the reasons are clear – the sector is changing so quickly, and it is going to become more expensive for smaller independents to stay in business.”

In results reported yesterday, Belvoir said: “There remain over 10,000 potential acquisition targets comprising small to medium-sized independent lettings and sales agents in the UK which might look to exit following increased regulation and the prospect of the ban on tenant fees in 2019.”

Wilson said that at TPFG, the emphasis is on helping franchisees achieve scale: last year, franchisees added a total of 2,000 managed properties to their portfolios. In the first three months of this year, there have been acquisitions of 800 managed properties – “so it is gathering pace.”

The fees ban will put at risk 16% of franchisees’ lettings income, said TPFG, while Belvoir put the figure at about 13%. Both businesses remain predominantly lettings focused, with TPFG reporting that lettings accounts for 70% of management service fees, and Belvoir saying that 80% of its business is lettings.

Despite a challenging future, the business rivals yesterday delivered strong results for the 2017 financial year.

The two were the subject of a possible merger instigated by the smaller Belvoir in February – something which Wilson angrily at the time described as a hostile reverse takeover bid. Nothing came of it.

Yesterday, however, Wilson sounded a conciliatory note, telling EYE: “I am glad that, like us, Belvoir have reported good results. It gives confidence in our business models. It shows franchising works.”

TPFG is expected to pay an increased dividend of 5.4p, and Belvoir to pay 6.9p.

The Property Franchise Group

Revenue rose 23% last year to £10.2m, with pre-tax profits up 33% to £4.3m. Its hybrid brand EweMove made a profit in the second half of last year “despite unexpected management disruption”.

TPFG had 403 outlets last year, with 283 high street brands and 120 EweMove.

Yesterday, its share price barely changed on the London Stock Exchange, closing at 136p.

Belvoir

Belvoir reported group revenue up 14% to £11.3m. Pre-tax profits rose 62% to £3.9m.

In its first full year as part of the Belvoir Group, Northwood contributed £1.2m to revenue.

Belvoir had a total of 300 offices last year – 171 Belvoir, 39 Newton Fallowell and 90 Northwood.

Yesterday, Belvoir’s shares edged up about 1%, to close at around 103p.

Source: Property Industry Eye