YORK-based estate agency group Hunters has confirmed it will float on AIM next month with shares worth a total of £16.9 million.

The Eboracum Way-based business, which opened its first branch in York 22 years ago, will list around 22 per cent of the group on the London Stock Exchanges's smaller counterpart AIM, with the rest of the company remaining under ownership of the existing shareholders.

The group announced its flotation plans in February, and yesterday confirmed a planned listing for July 2.

The move forms part of Hunters' strategy to grow its network to more than 500 offices in five years time.

The business currently has 153 branches nationwide, of which 142 are franchises after the firm's move into franchising in 2006.

Last year, Hunters opened 31 new branches and has almost matched that number in the first half of this year alone.

Kevin Hollinrake, chairman of Hunters, said: "Hunters is a highly ambitious company. Our success to date has been born out of our focus on providing our customers with an exceptional service combined with local market knowledge.

"The group is excited about its next chapter as a public company. This status will help to further enhance the Hunters brand and provide access to capital to accelerate business growth."

In preparation for its flotation, Hunters restructured its board earlier this year with managing director and founder Kevin Hollinrake moving into the role of chairman and Glynis Frew, currently operations director, taking over as managing director.

Harry Hill, the former chief executive of Countrywide, which Hunters acquired in 2011, joined the board as chief executive, principally with the responsibility of guiding Hunters through the flotation process and helping the company adjust to public ownership.

Of the shareholders Nigel Wray, a city financier who was an early investor in pizza franchise business Domino's, will hold the biggest individual stake, of 18.8 per cent worth £3.2million.

Mr Hollinrake will have 15 per cent while his co-founder and company president John Waterhouse has 14.7 per cent.

Hunters' franchise model has seen growth of more than 20 per cent each year, with the company planning further expansion through attracting new franchisees, conversions of independents and acquisitions of agency networks.