It’s a year since Guy Gittins returned to Foxtons, this time as CEO, when he assumed command of a brand that had, by its own admission, lost its mojo.
A year on, Gittins has been able to take stock of the incredible success enjoyed by the firm, having reestablished its position as London’s #1 estate agency brand, both in terms of market share and growth of new instructions*.
First established in Notting Hill back in 1981, Foxtons quickly gained a reputation for achieving the very best deal for both its sellers and landlords alike. Instantly recognisable by its fleet of branded Minis, Foxtons became synonymous with the London property market and the expertise required when negotiating both the sales and lettings sectors.
Changes in the company’s culture in the 2010’s, a culture that had been vital in shaping Foxtons during its early years, meant that the approach needed to maintain this position yielded to the pressure of public potshots that often come from those in awe of such achievements.
What followed was a suffocation of the Foxtons ethos, transforming the company into a corporate vehicle that struggled to embrace the character, energy and aspiration of the early years. Until last year, that is, when Foxtons alumni Guy Gittins returned to take control as company CEO.
It was the legendary character and energy at Foxtons that had first attracted Guy Gittins to the business 20 years ago this October. Walking into their Chiswick Park HQ it was immediately clear to him that the training and people would provide him with the perfect platform and foundation for future success.
Over the five years that Guy Gittins first worked at Foxtons he quickly progressed from Sales Negotiator to top sales performer and Sales Manager of the largest Foxtons office in South Kensington. When it was time for a new challenge, Guy moved on to a global Sales Director role for an international property entrepreneur before returning to the UK to represent Savills in the launch and sale of the world renowned One Hyde Park in Knightsbridge.
His success in both roles, and his firm foundation from Foxtons brought him to London estate agency Chestertons, where, as CEO, he led the business from loss making to record revenue and profits in just four years. Finally, having utilised his early Foxtons experiences to propel him forward in his career, it was time to come home to the opportunity to re-energise the business that had taught him so much.
On his first day as Foxtons CEO, Guy Gittins made a company wide address via video link to introduce himself and his plans
Foxtons CEO, Guy Gittins, commented:
“My first company wide video address on my second ‘first day’ at Foxtons was clear, we are the original property industry disruptors and we’ve always done things differently to the rest of the marketplace and to the benefit of our clients. This is something to be embraced, but the reality was that our focus and performance had slipped over the previous years.
It was time to get back to the Foxtons that I knew and loved, a company based on the fundamentals of high volume sales, high energy culture and a clear focus on growing market share, growing acquisitions, creating efficiencies in every part of the process and striving to be the very best.
I wanted to revitalise the visibility and vigour of the brand and the pride associated with being a Foxtons estate agent. Reinstating certain aspects of the previous culture was a vital part of this. More noise, more energy, more Foxtons Minis, more events, more trips, more incentives, more fun.
But this change in culture was as much about enabling as it was about encouraging competition and reward. This meant providing greater budgets, more staff members, better technology and, perhaps most importantly, the ability for us to utilise the vast amount of market data we have gathered in a realistic and effective way.
I wanted all of our staff to know from the get-go that it’s not ok to be average and we would once again celebrate and embrace the winning culture, providing those who perform at the highest levels the very best opportunities to progress their career.
In doing so, this would naturally ensure that whether you are looking to rent or sell a property, Foxtons would not only provide you with the very best service, but also achieve the very best return.”
A year on from Guy’s return and his forensic review of the Foxtons business, what’s changed?
On his 20th anniversary within the property sector and following his first year back at Foxtons, Gittins once again addressed Foxtons via video link.
“In the last year, we’ve invested heavily in our under utilised assets – people, technology and brand.
Our technology team has driven innovation to new heights and far beyond that of our competitors. In just 12 months, we’ve developed the only true digital, end to end lettings platform in the industry.
We’ve used our in-house technology to optimise our day to day business decisions and our interactive data dashboard lets us analyse every inch of the business in real time to ensure performance is where it needs to be. This truly data-led approach allows us to anticipate the market and prepare for the challenges of tomorrow, today.
Our new Sloane Square office has been the first to benefit from a digital makeover, with technology helping to reposition what clients should expect from an estate agent’s physical presence on the high street.
We’ve increased our head count considerably and implemented a 10 times increase in the level of face to face training we provide our staff across the business, improving performance at every stage.
We introduced the new electric Foxtons Mini at our Christmas party, as well as the new car handover ceremonies and an increase in the number of trips for top performers.
Visibility of the Foxtons brand is back and we’ve seen lettings revenue records set on a weekly basis, while our sales pipeline has also been rebuilt at its fastest rate in five years.
The results from the changes made over the last year, are already yielding considerable results. As confirmed by Rightmove last month, Foxtons agreed sales were up 61% in September, against a market backdrop of just 8%.
We’ve also been the fastest growing agent with regard to market share over the last six months, regaining our title as London’s largest lettings and sales agent*.
As for year two, with everything we’ve put in motion it’s going to be even bigger and even better..” *Source TwentyCI data, H1 2023 v H1 2022 market share and market share growth of New Instructions at a brand level.
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