Countrywide Plc estate agency brands John D Wood & Co and Faron Sutaria are to merge under the John D Wood banner, creating a 51-branch “London powerhouse”, with six additional agencies operating with “further closer collaborations”.
The merger – heralded at the start of August by the closure of Faron Sutaria’s Chiswick office, with staff and operations shifting over to the neighbouring John D Wood outpost on Turnham Green Terrace – sees Countrywide’s entire Premier & City Division close ranks, and follows what bunf calls “the largest customer insight project undertaken by any company in the sector”. The conclusion of which was that “people want to access a full range of expertise under one roof”.
Faron Sutaria has been operating in London’s sales and lettings arena for around 40 years; John D Wood’s been around for a lot longer – opening its first office on Mayfair’s Mount Street back in 1872.
Faron Sutaria’s offices in Lower Sloane Street, Earls Court, Fulham Broadway, Islington, Notting Hill Gate, Shepherds Bush and South Kensington are in the initial round of rebrands, with new identities due by the end of this year – but we’ve been told that “there are currently no plans to close any of Faron Sutaria’s or John D Wood & Co.’s branches”.
“We are bringing together a family of innovative, bespoke and personal estate agency brands to create a London powerhouse”
This new, bigger John D Wood will also operate with closer ties to six other associated companies, all currently part of the parent company’s Premier & City Division: Alan de Maid, Hetheringtons, Vanet, Fitz-Gibbon, APW Lettings and CHK Mountford. As a larger company, initially growing by a third through merging with Faron Sutaria, and through further closer collaborations, the business “will have the coverage and expertise of 51 offices”.
Alan de Maid and Hetheringtons have been part of the JDW-led co-marketing operation “London Country Association” for some time. These two companies will now be co-branded as “part of John D Wood & Co.” as will Vanet, based in Canary Wharf, and three specialist lettings agencies in West London and Surrey (Fitz-Gibbon, APW Lettings and CHK Montford).
While it seems fairly inevitable that some branches will close (a lot of FS and JDW offices are pretty close to eachother, and Countrywide’s Head of Retail warned a few weeks ago that “we are proposing some changes to our branch footprint”), the management is putting an achingly positive spin on things, led by a five-point pledge to “enhance [John D Wood & Co.’s] innovative, bespoke and personal service to clients and customers” by offering:
- An increased branch network
- More staff with local expertise
- Specialist departments including International Sales; Interior Consultants; Chartered Surveyors; Corporate Relocation
- Residential Development
- Agricultural Sales, acquisitions and estate management
Ben Taylor’s been running Countrywide’s Premier & City Division (John D Wood & Co., Faron Sutaria, Alan de Maid, Hetheringtons, Fitz-Gibbon, CHK Mountford, APW Lettings and Vanet) since 1st November 2015, and will continue to lead this closer-knit operation. The division was restructured as of 1st June 2016 “based on geographical fit”.
The merger is all part of a bigger repositioning strategy by the UK’s biggest property services group, dubbed “Building our Future” by CEO Alison Platt. Last month, Countrywide outlined a plan to introduce “hybrid” online/traditional estate agency services to “around one quarter” of its brands.
Ben Taylor, Managing Director of John D Wood & Co.: “We are bringing together a family of innovative, bespoke and personal estate agency brands to create a London powerhouse to serve our discerning client base. We are taking the best practice from each company and combining this with the in depth knowledge, professionalism and excellent customer service our whole team delivers. This is a very exciting time for John D Wood & Co. and for our customers who will benefit from our increased size and strength. Expect to see a lot of activity over the coming months.”