Property Industry Eye is reporting that Chestertons, a large UK agency, has left Zoopla to return to Rightmove. Chestertons is a member of OnTheMarket and is therefore subject to the "only one other portal rule" meaning that they have to choose between Zoopla and Rightmove.
The impact of the announcement was swift with Zoopla Property Group shares closing down 5% at 242.8p. However, the shares are still significantly up from their January 22nd low of 150p - just after OnTheMarket launched.
Here is the article in full ...
Chestertons has left Zoopla to return to Rightmove.
This morning, Chestertons chief executive Robert Bartlett confirmed to EYE: “We remain strongly committed to OnTheMarket.”
Chestertons put their listings back up on to Rightmove yesterday afternoon, while their listings on Zoopla will be taken down today.
Bartlett said he thought that the departure of Chestertons, with 32 branches across London, would be a blow for Zoopla but said that it had been on amicable terms.
Chestertons was the largest of the 250 or so agents to quit Rightmove under OTM’s one other portal rule. Most of the departures – around 4,000 – were from Zoopla.
Bartlett said this morning that the decision to leave Zoopla was based on the fact that although it delivered leads, they did not translate into enough business.
“Also,” he said, “we had more and more of our clients telling us that they expected to see us on Rightmove and you have to listen to your clients.”
He said that Chestertons get very good quality leads from OTM and added: “Ultimately, we hope that OTM will build itself up into the situation whereby Chestertons need to be on no other portal at all.”
City analyst William Packer, of Exane BNP Paribas, said: “An upmarket estate agent with a strong brand, has returned to the Rightmove platform within months of leaving.”
Of the departure of Chestertons from Zoopla to fulfill their one other portal obligations, he added: “We see this as a negative, underpinning Rightmove’s relative must-have status, and raising further questions on Zoopla’s longer term pricing power, and the assumed rebound of membership in consensus.
“It is also a positive for OTM, with Agents Mutual successfully retaining the membership of Chestertons, a high profile founding member. We estimate that Agents Mutual is continuing to grow its membership like Rightmove and Zoopla – ie, all three players are growing membership currently.”
In Packer’s note to investors, he said that he reiterated outperform on Rightmove and underperform on Zoopla.