The slowdown in the UK’s property market and shift to online searches is to account for the closure of 124 estate agency branches.
In a fresh blow for struggling high streets, the owner of the Your Move, JNP and Reeds Rains brands, LSL Property Services, said it was shutting the sites in a bid to boost profitability.
The decision puts hundreds of jobs at risk at Your Move and Reeds Rains, though the company said it hoped to redeploy some of those affected.
It meant that LSL’s estate of 404 branches will be cut to 280.
Just over half that number – 144 – will operate as larger “keystone branches” in crucial locations, the company said.
The new strategy aimed at ensure profits of at least £80,000 per branch, it said.
The closures put more pressure on high streets following a year that saw a string of retail failures and rescue deals as chains battled rising costs from business rates and wage rules and a consumer spending slowdown.
Banks have also continued to cut branch numbers, citing a shift towards digital banking.
Research by the Local Data Company late last year suggested that estate agents were the second-fastest declining retail high street category after pubs in the first half of 2018.
Industry experts say activity in the property market has slowed to a crawl as buyers – and sellers – await the outcome of Brexit.
The company’s own latest research, released last month, put annual house price growth at its lowest level since 2012.
Growing competition, through the rise of online-only firms such as Purple Bricks, has also taken its toll on traditional business models.
LSL said: “We continue to believe that traditional estate agents will represent the substantial majority of the residential sales and lettings markets for the foreseeable future and that our estate agency branches will continue to remain core to providing the service our customers expect.
“The changes we are announcing today will better position Your Move and Reeds Rains as two leading estate agency brands in the UK.
“We will continue to support these branches and our people to maintain their brand presence and well established local market positions in the future.”