The chairman of online property portal Rightmove is to stand down following a shareholder revolt.
Scott Forbes has served in the role for 14 years but will be replaced at the company’s AGM next year.
The listed firm announced the news as it released 2018 results showing an 11 per cent increase in operating profit to £198.6 million, up from £178.3m in 2017, and revenue growth of 10 per cent to £267.8m (£243.3m in 2017).
The staggering profit margin, 82 per cent of turnover, was helped by an average £83 increase in the fees it charges estate agents to advertise properties. Its agency customers now pay Rightmove more than £1,000 a month on average.
Forbes, who faced a minor but significant shareholder revolt last year due to concerns over his board commitments, was not saved despite returning £168.5m to shareholders through dividends and share buybacks.
He also serves as chairman at global information firm Ascential.com and vehicle selling portal Cars.com.
“At the AGM in May 2018, a significant minority of votes were received against the re-election of myself as chairman and Peter Williams, our senior independent director,” he stated to the London Stock Exchange.
“During the autumn I actively consulted with a majority of shareholders in relation to our plans for orderly board succession and to address concerns about the board commitments of both myself and Peter.
“Following these conversations, I believe that we have consensus support for an orderly succession plan that contemplates the further development of chair candidates on the board and the recruitment of up to two non-executives with appropriate profiles, prior to the May 2020 AGM, on which date I intend to resign from the board as chairman.”
techUK president Jacqueline de Rojas will replace Williams as senior independent director in May and will oversee the process of appointing a new chair.
Rightmove said there are around a million residential properties advertised on its platform – more than any other UK portal – with nearly a billion minutes spent on them every month from 132m visits.
“2018 was another strong year for Rightmove. We extended our market leadership and reinforced our position as the place consumers turn to first when thinking about moving home,” continued Forbes.
“We believe the UK online property advertising market will continue to grow, despite the continuing uncertainties stemming from the result of the EU referendum.
“Consumers and customers are becoming increasingly digital and customer spend continues to transition online from traditional advertising channels as they take advantage of the efficiencies we bring.
“The resilience of our customer base is shown by our stable membership numbers, with particularly notable growth coming from New Homes developments.
“Our clear market leadership coupled with the value of our digital solutions and our unrivalled data positions us well for the future.”
CEO Peter Brooks-Johnson added: “Our continued progress is testament to our unwavering focus on the UK property advertising market and the huge effort Rightmovers have made to build our business in partnership with our industry customers.”