Shares in lettings agency Martin & Co (MCO) jumped 16 per cent on their debut on AIM on 18th December, underlining the market’s appetite for stocks with exposure to the housing sector.
“With 187 offices, mainly in the South East and the Midlands, Martin & Co runs one of Britain’s largest lettings networks from its Bournemouth base. It’s diminutive stock market size – currently just £25.5 million – reflects the capital-light franchise model. It owns just two of its branches in-house, and has no intention of owning more,” says chief executive Ian Wilson.
Martin & Co is one of the only UK property agency franchises that offer lettings and estate agency with UK-wide recognition. With a network of just under 200 franchise owners, they are the largest property franchise business in the UK. Martin & Co has been recognised for its award-winning service by its clients winning Gold for Best Large Letting Chain at the ESTAS (Estate & Letting Agent Awards) in 2009 & 2012, as well as Silver in 2010 & 2011 and most recently in 2013.
The flotation served two functions. First, it allowed the founders, Richard and Kathy Martin, to sell about a third of their stake to investors. Second, the company has raised £4m in new funds, which will be used to consolidate the highly fragmented lettings market. Over the year to September, the company took on 1.9 per cent of all new instructions, according to data provider Vizzi Home. Only two companies – the full-service housing service groups Countrywide and LSL – had a higher market share.