Purplebricks’ founder Michael Bruce has stepped down as chief executive with immediate effect, a move that sent shares falling by 6 per cent to 127p in early trading today.
He will be replaced by chief operating officer Vic Darvey, who left Moneysupermarket.com, where he worked as managing director, to join the online-only estate agency in January of this year.
Purplebricks chairman Paul Pindar says: “Firstly, I would like to place on record our thanks to [Bruce] for the truly remarkable contribution that he has made to the creation and development of Purplebricks.
“[His] vision in creating the UK’s leading hybrid estate agent has been deeply impressive, as has his relentless energy in developing the business both in the UK and internationally.”
He adds that management is “conscious” that the company’s performance over the last year has been “disappointing,” adding his apologies to shareholders.
“With hindsight,” he says, “our rate of geographic expansion was too rapid and as a result the quality of execution has suffered. We have also made sub-optimal decisions in allocating capital. We will learn from these errors and will not make them again.”
Indeed, in the firm’s latest trading update, the board details that it will leave the Australian market after entering it two and a half years ago, and that its operations in the US are under “strategic review”.
It adds that operations will continue in the UK and in Canada.
Of the new appointment, Pindar says: “We have a lot to do and [Darvey] has a clear vision of the priorities we need to address.”