Double disaster! Countrywide COO in waiting decides not to take up job

first_imgProblems at Countrywide increased somewhat publicly last night following the disclosure that Bruce Marsh, who had initially accepted the role of Chief Operating Officer, will now no longer be joining the business.Marsh had also accepted the position of Executive Director on the company’s board, leaving the senior team with two roles to fill.The decision by Marsh to not take up his job at Countrywide is unusual to say the least, particularly as it has been just over five months since his appointment had been announced.Working noticeMarsh (picture, above) had been working his notice at his original employer, Tesco where he was its UK and Ireland Finance Director.The announcement has put a significant spanner in the works at Countrywide where Marsh’s arrival was part of a succession planning strategy to find fresh blood.  Marsh had been pencilled in to report directly to Group Managing Director Paul Creffield.In a statement to City investors, Countrywide gave no indication why Marsh has decided not to join the company, although the announcement’s timing is significant, coming just a day after LSL revealed it was not planning to make an offer for Countrywide.Many within the industry and the company have concluded that Marsh didn’t want to join a business that is weak enough to see a rival like LSL consider making a bid to buy it and was probably worried by a company whose share price has dropped by over 80% in three weeks.At the time of his appointment, Marsh told the media that: “I am excited to join Countrywide and to help them with the next stage of their strategy.” Bruce Marsh LSL Countrywide March 18, 2020Nigel LewisOne commentAndrew Stanton, CEO Proptech-PR Real Estate Influencer & Journalist CEO Proptech-PR Real Estate Influencer & Journalist 18th March 2020 at 9:34 amBeing a Real Estate Analyst is often akin to looking into a crystal ball! But on the 17th of October 2019 I posted the following on my Linkedin account …‘Following the recent (announcement of the imminent) arrival of Bruce Marsh to steady the wheel at Countrywide, whose share price dips below 4p, it was good news that Countrywide had done something new. But, it was potentially bad news Bruce’s very successful career to date, appears to lack any experience in the property sector, unless home DIY can be counted and of course Dixons.I do hope that in the words of Britney they have not ‘done it again’ as Countrywide had previously installed a CEO the infamous and long-departed Alison Platt whose background was also anything but estate agency.During her four-year reign there was a 90% drop in the company’s share price. At least with the current share price at 3.9p, no-one can really harm the present fortunes of the company.True Bruce and Dave Lewis as a double act turned the fortune of Tesco around, following a programme of redundancies and re-modelling.But, the difference between Tesco and the Behemoth of Countrywide, is that Tesco when turning its fortunes around was in the top three of retailers in the world, Countrywide sadly is not in the same league as many of its competitors.The jury is out on whether it can survive, (as an ex-employee I hope it does) or it will have a programme of asset stripping and be consigned to history as yet another example of ‘big business’ failing to adapt to the realities of the ‘click generation’ who want service, and brands that deliver.Less than a week later, and Countrywide welcome on board another face from Tescos, Amanda Rendle.Actually Amanda Rendle’s background may well be useful, with a past including HSB, Masthaven Bank? (yes the experimental one) and currently a non-exec of The Royal Mint and Keep Britain Tidy, she may have access to copious funds – which CW desperately need, and if there is a rout, then at least she can help clean up the mess.It does astound me why the strategy at the top is – get someone from the outside of the industry to solve our problems and calm the stock market – Alison Platt – prime candidate – property industry knowledge zero – MD of Bupa – that was a good fit.Here is a suggestion – why doesn’t CW put together a ‘think tank’ (I know very 1960’s) of estate agents – and move the company forward that way. Where can they find these calibre of people with industry knowledge? – well – there are thousands of them in their business and if the look at the people they ‘let go’ in the past 60 months there is probably enough top talent there to make a start.My thoughts – share price will implode in Spring 2020, when CW looks for another life saving injection of cash, and then piece by piece CW will be sold off. Thoughts?’So, there you have it I was four months ago predicting the end of Countrywide in the Spring, and I think we are fast approaching that point, as to the share price, it was 305p on the 28th of Feb, (there was a re-calibration of the share price) but it has dropped to 56p yesterday – an 81% drop in just over a fortnight.Will others now do the honourable thing – resign or will they be pushed – that is about the only unknown factor that surrounds Countrywide at the moment, unless of course there are any other Tesco employees on the horizon.Log in to ReplyWhat’s your opinion? 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