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Countrywide’s current closure programme of around 60 branches could be just the start, the Financial Times is reporting. Analyst Gavin Jago, of Peel Hunt, said that Countrywide, which has “822 branches” in its “retail” network, may reduce that to as few as 600. His comments are reported in the FT with Jago adding: “This is linked to the launch of their ‘flexi’ service, which is a move into the online space. There is a medium-term move to shrink their pressure on the high street.” However, it is not clear where Jago has obtained his figures from. Countrywide itself says it has 1,500 branches and over 50 brands. The FT also reported Anthony Codling, analyst at Jefferies, saying that with customers visiting branches less frequently, the strategy makes sense. EYE reported in July – on the basis of separate, highly respected sources – that some 200 branches could be affected, although this has always been denied as being wide of the mark. However, the new FT report suggests that around 222 branches could close. We yesterday also asked about an apparent closure of a branch in Braintree, Essex, of CM Lettings – part of an acquisition by Countrywide last year. The closure is not mentioned in the leaked list. However, the premises appear to be on the market with Rightmove. Yesterday evening, Countrywide referred us to its earlier statement, carried yesterday on EYE, which said that 59 offices are shutting, and said that the Braintree office of CM Lettings will be relocating.

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