London estate agency chain Foxtons, which has come under the spotlight for lacklustre share price growth, has appointed experienced property board room member Nigel Rich as its next chairman.
Rich, a chartered accountant who has previously chaired firms including estate agency Hamptons International and warehouse landlord Segro, as well as held non-executive director positions at ITV and Harvey Nichols, will start his new role from October 1 when Ian Barlow steps down.
Barlow announced in July he planned to retire. He quit after eight years in the post and that update came after demands for a boardroom shakeup from its biggest shareholder.
It was reported in June that shareholder Hosking Partners was concerned with the share price which was then around a third below where it was before the pandemic, despite the industry seeing high demand for homes, helped by the stamp duty holiday launched last year.
Shares now hover at around 53p, compared with 94p as at the end of February 2020, although they were around 50-55p for most of 2018 and 2019, so comparable to today.
Rich, who is 75, will be paid £150,000 per year, of which, £50,000 will be paid in shares at the prevailing market price.
He said: “As the UK, including London, recovers from the economic effects of the pandemic Foxtons is well placed to take advantage of the resurgent activity in the residential market. I look forward to working with the management team to accelerate Foxtons' recovery and returns to shareholders."
Some firms in the capital saw would-be buyers and tenants seek larger properties with gardens away from London during the pandemic.
Foxtons, led by Nic Budden, cheered improved trading conditions in the first half to June but said the second half was likely to be quieter as the stamp duty relief tapers.
In that update, published in July, the company said lettings had yet to fully recover from the pandemic, but Budden said: “We believe there are signs of sufficient underlying confidence in the market to support a more sustained recovery.”
Josh Ponniah of Catalist Partners, which has a 2.3% stake in Foxtons, today said: “The board has responded to issues raised by shareholders. Nigel brings the specific industry expertise and turnaround experience that Catalist believes is necessary to reverse the decline in performance over the past 5 years.”