The Property Franchise Group has totally denied rumours that one of its brands, EweMove, has been sold to Countrywide, or that the brand is on the market at all.
Last night, CEO Ian Wilson said that EweMove, bought only a year ago by PFG for £15m – but with the price now revealed to have been revised downwards to £9m – is not up for sale.
Wilson also made clear that he has had no regrets buying the EweMove brand.
Wilson told EYE: “The expectation that every serious 21st century estate and letting agents has a virtual “on-line” offering has become pressing.
“The trouble is that almost all these models rely on customers paying a low, fixed, up-front fee, and the concern is that the fees are just too low to make a decent profit.
“EweMove has a different model. It’s a traditional no sale, no fee business but without the overhead of shop premises, and with the benefits of a highly optimised website and genuine 24/7 customer servicing through its call centre.
“We regret the loss of founders David and Glenn who left on June 30 this year, but their business model is in the safe hands of one of their top performing franchisees Nick Neil, the new MD whose own York franchise is on track to hit £300k of revenue this year, just three-years after he cold-started.
“Rumours are circulating that we intend to sell EweMove, allegedly to Countrywide.
“Nothing could be further from the truth.
“We think that EweMove was a bit of a bargain at the revised purchase price of £9m as evidenced by some of the inflated valuations recently attached to other on-line operators with similar trading volumes to EweMove, or worse in some instances.
“EweMove already has 100+ franchisees and we believe it can be scaled up rapidly over the next two years.
“If I was Dr Who and had a Tardis to travel back to 5th September 2016 when we bought it, I’d still sign that contract”.
Rumours have been rife that PFG, whose brands include Martin & Co, has in recent weeks sold EweMove to Countrywide for £16m.
However, yesterday PFG boss Ian Wilson specifically asked that EYE carry denials of any such sale, with his full statement carried above.
Wilson said that “categorically” EweMove is not for sale to Countrywide before issuing his statement.
The founders – or head shepherds – of EweMove David Laycock and Glenn Ackroyd – left in June, despite not being able to win their lucrative earn-outs.
Yesterday, we again asked Countrywide’s press office about EweMove, but we have had no response to, or acknowledgement of, our queries.
Puzzled sources in the City tell us that they had expected an announcement by now.
On their LinkedIn profiles, both Laycock and Ackroyd still describe themselves as co-owners of EweMove.