Belfast Telegraph

Half-year losses at Purplebricks double to hit £27.3m

By Maryam Cockar

Online estate agents Purplebricks, founded by Co Antrim brothers Kenny and Michael Bruce, reported losses more than doubling to £27.3m in the six months ending in October.

However, revenues increased by 75% to £70.1m, largely driven by a 39% growth in sales in its UK business. Marketing costs more than doubled to £39m from £18.3m.

Purplebricks also cut the top end of its full-year revenue guidance to between £165m and £175m from £165m and £185m.

The brothers were brought up in Larne before moving to England at the age of 18. The company has operated in Northern Ireland since 2014 with an office in Craigavon.

Kenny Bruce, who now owns Larne FC, said last month he had invested £1.4m in the ground, with plans to inject another £2m into his boyhood club.

Purplebricks cautioned that it does not expect any short-term improvement to "challenging market conditions" in the UK, although it does anticipate taking further market share from its competitors in the second half of the financial year.

Purplebricks, backed by fund manager Neil Woodford and media giant Axel Springer, has expanded rapidly since it floated in 2015, three years after being founded. In addition to its home UK market the company has operations in the US, Canada and Australia. In March, Axel Springer bought an 11.5% stake through a £125m investment, which includes a £100m subscription of new shares to help with the firm's US expansion.

Michael Bruce said: "Our UK business continues to make good progress, with strong sales growth, market share gains and a step-up in both profitability and positive cash flow.

"It is this strength that will see Purplebricks emerge stronger from the ongoing industry shakeout, which is expected to continue to expose undercapitalised traditional and online competitors."

Belfast Telegraph

Weekly Business Digest Newsletter

This week's business news headlines, directly to your inbox every Tuesday.