The chief marketing officer of Purplebricks, Joby Russell - who in the recent past has described the hybrid as “the UK’s most remarkable estate agency and one of the country’s fastest-growing businesses” - has sold almost 250,000 shares in the firm.
According to one report, the sale of shares which had been owned for just 10 days produced a profit in excess of £300,000.
Estate Agent Today understands Russell is believed to still have a substantial interest in the business, even after the sale.
A formal notification to the London Stock Exchange reads: “Purplebricks Group plc, the hybrid estate agent providing a new way to buy, sell or let property, has been notified that on July 22 2016, Joby Russell, Chief Marketing Officer, who is considered to be a personal discharging managerial responsibilities, sold 243,618 ordinary shares of 1 pence each (Ordinary Shares) at a price of 140.00 pence per Ordinary Share.”
Russell was appointed director of the agency in late 2014, at the same time as he was marketing director at Confused.com.
At the time Russell told a marketing trade publication: “The estate agency model is no longer relevant to modern consumers and is in desperate need of a shakeup. The days of browsing estate agents' windows are long gone and there is no longer a need for consumers to pay staggering commissions to agents.”
Purplebricks launched in April 2014 and staged its Initial Public Offering - its flotation on the stock market - in late 2015.
In a very buoyant report to the City some six weeks ago, Purplebricks claimed it had sold £2.8 billion worth of property in the year to April 30 with another £1.7 billion sold subject to contract. Revenues had soared 448 per cent in a year.
The agency claimed a 77 per cent conversion rate, which it said was possibly “industry leading” - it ended its year with 2,827 instructions in April.
However, in recent weeks it has received a series of critical reports - some concerned the apparent lack of membership of redress organisations by individual Local Property Experts associated with the agency, while others have reported comments from City consultancy Jefferies, which has criticised some of the figures cited by Purplebricks in recent statements.
Yesterday evening Jefferies commented on the Russell sale of shares: “We were surprised that Mr Russell ... sold 243,618 shares at 140p, having only exercised the options on those shares on 12 July 2016 and a price of 12.93p. His holding period of 10 days is therefore four days fewer than the average time (of 14 days) it takes Purplebricks to find a buyer for its customers' homes.”