The Countrywide Group was formed in 1986, when Bairstow Eves and Mann & Co. were acquired by Hambros Plc and merged to form Hambro Countrywide.
The Countrywide Group was formed in 1986 when the first two UK Stock Exchange listed estate agency groups, Bairstow Eves and Mann & Co., were acquired by Hambros Plc and merged to form Hambro Countrywide. Hambro Assured was established in 1988, making it the UK’s biggest life company start-up and the first life assurance business to be wholly owned by an estate agency group.
Growth has mainly been through acquisitions, including the creation of the largest residential surveying and valuation business in the UK when Nationwide Estate Agents and Nationwide Surveyors were acquired from Nationwide Building Society in October 1994.
Further outlets were added to the Group’s growing network of estate agency branches, including Spencers from National & Provincial Building Society in 1995, Faron Sutaria and top London brands PKL and John D Wood & Co. in 1997 and 1998 respectively. The estate agency division grew further following the acquisition of Friends Provident in 2002 and both Freeman Forman and Bradford & Bingley (ex Black Horse Property Services) in 2004. The acquisition of Bradford & Bingley’s estate agency business also enabled Countrywide to develop the UK’s largest specialist sales unit for land and new homes, which has helped more than 350 developers.
In 1998, the Group’s major shareholder Hambros Plc demerged, the shares passed into a widespread range of institutional investors’ hands and the name of the Group was changed to Countrywide Assured Group with the Life Assurance subsidiary renamed Countrywide Assured.
In 2002, the Group signed a long term distribution agreement with Friends Provident to provide all ABI regulated life products to be sold through their financial services sales force who are based across the estate agency network. Countrywide Assured was put into run-off and in May 2004, changed its name to Chesnara plc and was de-merged from the Group and floated on the London Stock Exchange as a separate entity.
In May 2007, Countrywide was acquired by the private equity finance group Apollo Management LP, thereby taking the Group out of public ownership. The shareholder group was extended in May 2009 to include Oaktree and Alchemy.
In 2010, the Group acquired Hamptons International and the Letmore Group.
In April 2011, the Group acquired Mortgage Intelligence, one of the UK’s largest mortgage distribution channels, providing premium broker services to over 6,500 mortgage intermediaries under the brands Mortgage Intelligence and Mortgage Next.
In July 2011, the acquisition of Yorkshire based agency Blundells was completed. Blundells, has grown to become Sheffield’s leading estate and lettings agency, responsible for selling one in four of all properties in Sheffield and instructing more rental properties than any other agent in the city.
On 25th March 2013, Countrywide was formally admitted to the London Stock Exchange (LSE), becoming Countrywide PLC.
In October 2013, the acquisition of Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH), completed. LSH is the UK's leading regional commercial property adviser with over 26 offices around the UK, extends Countrywide's reach from the residential property market into the commercial sector for the first time.
In 2014, the acquisition of BTW Shiells was completed.
In 2015, the Group acquired Green & Co, ikon, ES Group, Tushingham Moore and Douglas Newman Good Commercial.
In 2016, The Buy To Let Business and the Mortgage Bureau were acquired.
In 2017, Countrywide raised £37.8m in share placing, representing c10% of share capital.