Foxtons MD quits to set up new firm

Resigns over frustration at not being given shares

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Peter Rollings (pictured right) , the managing director of Chiswick Business Park based Foxtons, has announced that he is leaving the company to set up a rival firm. The departure appears to be due to frustration over the business owner's refusal to give him a share of the company.

Mr. Rollings, aged 42, had helped to build the company into one of the largest in London. He was widely seen as responsible for the aggressive style of the firm which resulted in the business growing from a small office in Notting Hill to a network of 36 offices with a £46 million turnover. Although widely feted for its progressive use of technology, the firm gained negative publicity for a series of embarrassing gaffes such as placing a bogus for sale sign outside the home of Government spin doctor Alastair Campbell. A newspaper report exposed a concerted campaign by Foxtons to remove the for sales signs of their rivals and replace them with their own.

Foxtons had been planning a listing in 2003 when the property market was in better shape, but plans were postponed. Rollings was the highest paid director of the firm but his annual request to owner Jon Hunt to receive an equity share was consistently turned down. Whilst his managing director had to make do with a salary of around £250,000, Hunt paid himself £600,000 as well as reportedly taking £2 million in dividends. He lives in Heveningham Hall in Suffolk a Grade 1 listing Georgian mansion which he paid £4.5 million for in 1994. He also owns a £4 million home in Palace Gardens which is next to Kensington Palace Terrace.

Mr. Rollings now says that he has financial backing to start up his own agency. He will reportedly be targeting the same mid-market area that Foxtons operates in and says that the business will have many of Foxton's 'aggressive but progressive' attributes. Rather than charging the premium commission rates used by Foxtons he is saying that rates will be more in line with the market.

He had no service contract with the company and will receive no pay-off but will be able to poach staff and clients from the firm straight-away. He is saying that the new business will be operating in a few weeks time.

News of a new entrant to their market niche comes at a particularly bad time for Foxtons as Land Registry data shows that there has been a steep fall in the number of property transactions in the most recent quarter particularly in areas of London in which they operate.

February 16, 2005