Estate agent Knight Frank would not deny that it has made a number of redundancies as the top of the property market suffers under the weight of tax hikes and the Brexit vote, though it would not be drawn on how many staff have been cut.
A source alleged to IBTimes UK that the Knight Frank residential super-prime department — for homes worth more than £10m — was closed down with a number of staff laid off as a consequence. A spokesman for Knight Frank denied the super-prime department had closed, but did not respond to a follow-up question on the number of redundancies made by the company.
Two casualties were said to be the department heads, Tim Wright and Richard Cutt, veterans of Knight Frank. Both were partners in the firm. Their departure had been announced by Knight Frank on Wednesday (30 November 2016) as "retiring from the partnership".
The spokesperson for Knight Frank said the "announcement regarding two partners retiring from the partnership is unrelated to anything else. However, there is always going to be a certain level of attrition in a business of our scale."
The super-prime market has suffered over the past couple of years after a series of tax hikes on expensive and investment properties. The stamp duty rise at the end of 2014 has particularly hurt the market, while Brexit uncertainty adds another dimension to the market's problems.
Land Registry data shows there were 28 transactions on properties worth £10m or more in the final quarter of 2014, in the December of which stamp duty was raised substantially on the most costly homes. In the third quarter of 2016, there were just three such sales, representing a 90% fall.
According to Knight Frank literature, Tim Wright and Richard Cutt launched the firm's Prime Residential Team, which focused on the super-prime market.