Countrywide Acquires UK Franchise for Sotheby's International Realty Brand

March 10, 2010 // Franchising.com // PARSIPPANY, N.J., and LONDON -- Sotheby's International Realty Affiliates LLC today announced the signing of an exclusive 25-year licensing agreement for the United Kingdom with Countrywide, the U.K.'s largest estate agency and property services group.

Under the agreement, Countrywide has the exclusive license to the Sotheby's International Realty® brand across the United Kingdom and Channel Islands. Countrywide will create a new subsidiary called United Kingdom Sotheby's International Realty to operate its new luxury brokerage business in those regions. As part of the transaction, Countrywide acquired the Sotheby's International Realty - London office in Mayfair, previously owned and managed by NRT LLC, the largest owner and operator of real estate brokerages in the United States. The office will be renamed London Sotheby's International Realty.

"This is a major step forward in our worldwide growth plan," said Michael R. Good, president and chief executive officer, Sotheby's International Realty Affiliates LLC. "This agreement will enable the Sotheby's International Realty brand to expand significantly in London and throughout the United Kingdom. The leadership of Countrywide is very talented and committed to growing our presence steadily over the next several years."

The Sotheby's International Realty network has approximately 500 offices in 38 countries and territories worldwide. Franchise affiliates benefit from an association with the world-renowned Sotheby's Auction House, established in 1744.

"Countrywide moves more people than any other agent in the United Kingdom through a network of 1,200 offices with 41 leading estate agency brands," said Grenville Turner, Countrywide Group Chief Executive. "We plan to expand the presence of the Sotheby's International Realty brand in central London and across the United Kingdom and to capitalize on the renewed sense of confidence we see in the property market. While this new business will be run separately from our other brands, we intend to leverage the support of our existing business structure. We also look forward to collaborating closely with the Sotheby's Auction House in London as we develop our strategies."

Countrywide has seen growth in its U.K. market share over the last year, and believes this agreement provides the platform for additional expansion. "The Sotheby's International Realty brand is iconic and offers a huge potential for quality growth," said Robert Scarff, managing director, Countrywide Estate Agents. "The strength of the U.K. property market for foreign investors makes this an ideal situation for us."

According to Charlie Smith, managing director, United Kingdom Sotheby's International Realty, the agreement offers the opportunity to be part of a larger network of offices across the United Kingdom. "I'm thrilled with this news as Countrywide is the biggest player in the market with the energy and power to help us grow a U.K.-wide network," said Smith, whose tenure with the Sotheby's International Realty brand surpasses 10 years. "This offers potential to grow across prime locations and signals a new and exciting chapter in our history."

About Sotheby's International Realty Affiliates LLC

Founded in 1976 to provide independent brokerages with a powerful marketing and referral program for luxury listings, the Sotheby's International Realty network was designed to connect the finest independent real estate companies to the most prestigious clientele in the world. In February 2004, Realogy Corporation, a global provider of real estate and relocation services, entered into a long-term strategic alliance with Sotheby's, the operator of the auction house. The agreement provided for the licensing of the Sotheby's International Realty name and the development of a full franchise system by Realogy's subsidiary, Sotheby's International Realty Affiliates LLC. Affiliations in the system are granted only to brokerages and individuals meeting strict qualifications. Sotheby's International Realty Affiliates LLC supports its affiliates with a host of operational, marketing, recruiting, educational and business development resources. Franchise affiliates also benefit from an association with the venerable Sotheby's auction house, established in 1744.

About Countrywide

Countrywide is the UK's largest and most successful estate agency and property services Group, operating more than 1,200 associated branches across England, Scotland and Wales.

Countrywide's network of expertise helps more people move than any other business in the UK and is a leading provider of estate agency, lettings, mortgage services, land and new homes, franchising, auctions, surveying, conveyancing and corporate property management services.

Countrywide's award-winning service has earned the business 29 high-profile industry awards in the last two years, which include Best Estate Agency, Best Letting Agency and Best Land & New Homes Agent of the Year at the 2009 Negotiator Awards, and Best Surveyor & Valuer at the 2009 Mortgage Strategy Awards. Customers also voted Countrywide Best Estate Agent at the 2009 Estate Agent & Letting Agent of the Year Awards.

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