Belfast Telegraph

Purplebricks losses hit £26.1m as major expansion continues

By Helen Cahil

Losses at the online estate agents co-founded by Co Antrim brothers Kenny and Michael Bruce have widened as Purplebricks continued its expansion into international markets.

Earlier this year Kenny Bruce, who spent part of his childhood in Larne, bought the local football club and its Inver Park ground.

Revenues at Purplebricks for the year ended April 30 soared 101% from £46.7m to £93.6m, with UK sales up 81% to £78m.

The group made a pre-tax loss of £26.1m for the year, up from a £6m loss the year before.

In Australia, where Purplebricks has been operating for a year, revenues were up by 285% from £3.5m to £13.5m.

Sales hit £2m in the US, although there was a loss of £16.5m from operating activities due to marketing investment.

Purplebricks' cash balance rose from £71.3m to £152.8m over the year, driven by a strategic investment from Axel Springer. Shares were down 2.7%, or 8.6p to 310p, after the announcement.

Michael Bruce, Purplebricks' chief executive, said: "We are confident that Purplebricks' market leadership will continue, given the strength of its brand, the continuing investment into team, technology and processes and our £153m war chest for global growth, following the strategic investment by Axel Springer."

The results come after the online estate agent announced plans to expand its North American footprint with its first foray into the Canadian market through the acquisition of DuProprio/ComFree (DPCF), which owns and operates a commission-free real estate service network with an online offering.

Analysts at Peel Hunt said: "While the current trading backdrop is mixed, Purplebricks continues to invest in its customer offering and technology as its pushes for further market share gains on all frontiers.

"Purplebricks remains well-placed to deliver significant growth in all of its regions over the next few years."

Kenny Bruce has said he will bring significant investment to Larne FC, including the construction of a 4G playing surface and new floodlights.

Belfast Telegraph

Weekly Business Digest Newsletter

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