I spent 20 years of my working life in West London competing against Foxtons. Whether you love them or loathe them, under the stewardship of property entrepreneur Jon Hunt, they were always a progressive and highly dynamic force in London estate agency, that subsequently became much imitated around the UK.
So, what made Foxtons so effective? Well, to start with, Jon Hunt’s entrepreneurial “vision” and core market understanding in the late 1980’s was clearly the catalyst that created the firm that we are all familiar with today. You see when most London firms were content to just simply survive during the property recession of the late 80’s and early 90’s, Mr Hunt was busy investing in the rebranding and reshaping of his business. So, in the eyes of the public, Foxtons looked innovative and energetic, whilst the rest of us looked tired and weary, with nothing positively new to say.
Market leading branding, and hard- working committed staff with a shared sense of common purpose made Foxtons stand out as the go-to agent with a positive message and track-record of achieving higher sale prices than their competitors’ ably assisted more latterly of course by a rising market.
Fast forward to the present day, Foxtons is now a public company with falling profits, a collapsing share price and a battle on its hands to preserve market share. So, why is Foxtons currently suffering? Well, market commentators would say that a combination of flat trading conditions, the government’s proposed ban on tenant fees, and a significant rise in both competition and fee discounting have not helped. But in truth, I suspect that under the current less entrepreneurial leadership, they have simply stopped innovating and as a direct result, stopped standing out from the crowd.