Countrywide executive chairman Peter Long will step in “for as long as is needed to get us back to where we should be”, staff of the UK’s biggest estate agent have been told.
But some will be wondering where multi-tasking Long, who is also chairman of Royal Mail and a third large organisation, will find the time.
Long, who became non-executive chairman in April 2016, stepped into an executive role as of yesterday following the departure of CEO Alison Platt.
As well as his roles at Royal Mail Group and Countrywide, Long is also chairman of leisure group operator Parques Reunidos Servicios Centrales S.A.U, and a supervisory board member of travel giant TUI Group, where he was chief executive until 2016. He is also president of the Family Holidays Association, and a business mentor.
The vastly experienced Long has also held non-executive director roles at the RAC, Rentokil and Debenhams.
It now appears he will have to find a lot more time in his diary.
At Countrywide, he now heads a new executive structure, also announced to staff yesterday. Reporting to him are chief financial office Himanshu Raja; Paul Creffield; Peter Curran, who is managing director of financial services; and Paul Chapman, managing director of B2B.
All four have been assigned heavy workloads, but it is Creffield – formerly with Rightmove – on whom the spotlight will inevitably fall.
His key role takes in a broad spectrum of responsibilities, including sales and lettings right across Countrywide, including London; commercial property; and, perhaps surprisingly, both marketing and HR or ‘people’ departments, following the departure announced last week of Kate Brown.
The ‘leadership pack’ giving staff full news about the changes was yesterday distributed internally.
Reaction appears to have been positive, with one member of staff saying: “At last, we’re going to be estate agents again.”
The exact size of the Countrywide operation seems to be not quite known: when EYE last asked, we were told there were 991 branches in total, with 600 mortgage consultants. The numbers do not quite align with other figures being bandied about – that there were 1,200 branches at the time of Platt’s appointment, which then were to due go down by 200 after restructure.
EYE broke the story of Alison Platt’s departure exclusively, on Tuesday evening, almost 12 hours before the stock exchange announcement, and well before any other news media did so.