Alison Platt, the controversial boss of Countrywide, is leaving the business.
Her departure was announced to senior staff this afternoon.
It is understood that for the time being, chairman Peter Long steps up to become executive chairman and Paul Creffield is promoted to chief operating officer.
Himanshu Raja, group chief financial officer since last August and who had been tipped to take over, remains in his post.
The departure is due to be confirmed in a stock exchange announcement tomorrow morning.
The departure was not wholly unexpected after the firm announced in a trading update that profits and revenues for last year are expected to be dramatically down. It is thought that the update was issued without Platt’s knowledge. Noticeably, she was not quoted in the update.
Platt joined Countrywide in 2014, from a non-estate agency background, having been at healthcare BUPA, where she was international managing director.
She took over from Grenville Turner, who became chairman, but subsequently left.
He was not alone: there was departure after departure of experienced senior figures, as the business ‘restructured’.
Platt’s believed that she was running a ‘retail’ business – a concept which baffled the industry at large.
The Building our Future strategy – in an interview with EYE shortly after she joined, she said strategy was one of her strengths – seemed at odds with the redundancies and departures of so many people, and the disappearance of some brands.
When we asked what Building our Future actually meant, her baffling reply was that it was about being “better to be bigger”.
At the time of the interview, Countrywide had 12,000 people working in just over 1,000 branches. But after a spate of acquisitions, rumours began to emerge of branch closures and restructures.
Early departures included Bob Scarff, who had headed up the agency wing of the business, and Nick Dunning. Dunning now heads up his own business, with other Countrywide departees, acquiring lettings businesses. Scarff has become a sought-after industry consultant.
Another to have left was Lee Wainwright who is now in charge of Purplebricks’ UK business.
However, perhaps the most notable departure was that of Sam Tyrer, who Platt herself had brought in, also from a non-agency background – in her case, Carphone Warehouse.
It was Tyrer who came up with Countrywide’s digital offering, launched in 2016 and rolled out across the network until it was “paused” last year.
Tyrer left abruptly last August, with Platt saying that she herself would now focus on the company’s main property businesses.
It is now Platt’s turn to go through the revolving door.