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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Purplebricks: high praise for agency from ex-Countrywide chief

Harry Hill - former chief executive of Countrywide and the founder of Rightmove, and one of the most respected figures in the agency industry - has heaped praise on Purplebricks.

He has taken to Twitter to praise Purplebricks for its performance so far, although he has raised an eyebrow over the company’s market capitalisation.

The hybrid agency launched in 2014 and floated shares at 100p around 15 months ago; it now has a share value in excess of 220p. The firm expanded into Australia last summer and yesterday revealed it was planning to launch in the United States later this year.

In a tweet yesterday - before Purplebricks announced its US ambitions - Hill said: “Full marks to management and staff at Purplebricks on creating a large (inter)national business in short order - but market cap of £560m+ ???”

Hill - a former director of the easyProperty online agency and now non-executive deputy chairman of Hunters franchise agency - continued on a related subject by going on to tweet that “almost all online agents will either consolidate or fold as the money runs out.” 

Hill returned to Twitter yesterday evening, after Purplebricks' US announcement, and wrote: "Very good luck to the Purplebricks team seeking to raise another £50m (at almost no discount) to tackle US. Huge prize, but huge challenge!!"

This is not Hill’s first praise for the hybrid operation. In December he congratulated the firm “for exceeding all in the industry (apart from their own) expectations to date.”

Hill is an infrequent tweeter but in his flurry of contributions yesterday he also commented on Countrywide’s fortunes.

“Been gone from Countrywide plc for a few years now but astonished how few of a magnificent management team remain. Certainly revolution!” he wrote.

His comment followed an Estate Agent Today story revealing that Julian Irby - who worked for 16 years at Countrywide in senior roles - was in April joining Nick Dunning Associates, an independent agency group with a leadership team consisting of three other ex-Countrywide executives.

Last year he warned of a possible “market share disaster” for Countrywide based on his observation of having seen only one Countrywide branded agency For Sale board during a four mile walk through London.

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