UK estate agent Foxtons posts pre-tax loss, hurt by lower sales

(Reuters) - London-focused estate agent Foxtons FOXT.L on Monday posted a pre-tax loss in the first-half of the year, hurt by lower sales and higher costs for strategic investments.

FILE PHOTO: A Foxtons estate agent sign is seen reflected in the window at a branch in north London September 3, 2013. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett/File Photo

The brand, famed for its chain of coffee shop-style offices, has been hit by a cooling of the once booming London property market and competition from online estate agents.

Foxtons has been cutting costs and focusing on investments in digital channels and technology to offset the impact.

The company reported a loss before tax of 2.5 million pounds ($3.28 million) compared with a profit of 3.8 million pounds, a year earlier.

“The property sales market in London is undergoing a sustained period of very low activity levels with longer and less visible transaction outcomes, which clearly impacts our business,” the company said.

However, it said it expects transaction levels to improve in London in the medium term.

Revenue fell 9 percent to 53 million pounds in the six months to June 30, with sales revenue down 23 percent on fewer transactions.

The company also warned of a mixed outlook looking ahead.

“Whilst our sales pipeline has recovered to a similar level to the same time last year, the sales market remains very subdued with less visibility on exchanges proceeding,”

Last month, Britain's largest estate-agency group Countrywide Plc CWD.L issued its fourth profit warning in eight months and said it planned an equity sale, as transactions were taking longer to complete.

Reporting by Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr