February 13, 2019 / 7:40 AM / 7 days ago

UK real estate agent Countrywide's full-year core profit halves

FILE PHOTO: A Countrywide estate agency is seen in the West End of Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, June 25, 2018 REUTERS/Russell Cheyne/File Photo

(Reuters) - Profit at British real estate agent Countrywide halved last year as it fought to improve its business in the face of a housing market weakened by the uncertainty generated by Brexit talks, the company said on Wednesday.

Shares of the company were down 1.8 percent at 9.61 pence in light early trading.

Countrywide, which was forced to issue shares after four profit warnings last year, said efforts to build back expertise in its sales and lettings unit was making progress.

A 2015 restructuring of the unit had led to the loss of experienced employees. The failed effort atop a cooling property market resulted in Countrywide losing substantial market share and profits.

The company said it had largely built back expertise, with a full complement of staffing and separate sales and lettings expertise at regional and branch management levels.

The pipeline of agreed sales awaiting exchange of contracts in UK sales and lettings was up 5 percent, despite having begun the year with a 21 percent deficit.

The company said its core earnings for the year ended 31 December 2018 fell 49.2 percent to 33 million pounds, which included a net charge of 2 million pounds.

Total group income was 627 million pounds for the year, below the 672 million pounds it reported a year earlier.

Reporting by Abinaya Vijayaraghavan in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

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