Monday, 10 December 2012

Reeds Rains to close in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland's depressed property market claimed another victim today with the announcement that Reeds Rains would be closing all seven of its branches in Northern Ireland within the next few weeks. These branches together with another two which closed in 2010 were acquired by RSL Property Services PLC, Reeds Rains' parent company, in January 2010 when it purchased Halifax Estate Agents from Lloyds Banking Group for £1. That acquisition resulted in RSL becoming the second largest estate agency business in the United Kingdom. The 2011 accounts for the Company show that at the end of 2011 the Company had 568 branches, (down 16 on the year), of which 199 traded under the Reeds Rains banner.

The company issued an Interim Management Statement on 15th November. This was quite positive in its tone and pointed to a seven percent growth in residential sales. There was no hint that the closure of any branches was being contemplated. The company appears to have survived our double dip recession quite well. At the close of the market today shares in RSL were trading at £2.53 just a few pence below the pre recession price.

It would be interesting to know whether the present and future state of the Northern Ireland property market is the sole reason for these closures or whether there is an element of strategic management on the part of the directors. The annual accounts will not tell us that.

(See now post of 11/12/12 by way of update)

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