A statement made by Purplebricks in its trading statement yesterday appears to fly in the face of statements it has made in the past.
Purplebricks yesterday revealed that it regarded its Local Property Experts and traditional High Street estate agents as “counterparts” and said it had a target to ensure that its LPEs earned more than its High Street rivals.
However, Purplebricks has said on different occasions in the past that its LPEs already tended to earn more than High Street agents.
In a little-publicised part of yesterday’s half year report to shareholders, sub-titled ‘Enhancing Performance In The Field’, Purplebricks says that there has been “significant investment” in real-time analytics and market data to enable LPEs to have more “meaningful conversations with customers in their living rooms to drive conversion.”
It says that investment has also been made into recruitment, induction and training programmes which have, it claims, “significantly improved performance management in the field and across the business.”
Then the report says that it aims to do two things to enhance the working landscape of LPEs.
Firstly “management … has a clear vision that LPEs should earn more than their high street counterparts” and secondly that LPEs should ‘get back a day a week’ with routine elements of their work - such as anti-money laundering checks - supported by more process automation and technology.
Yet the aspiration expressed by Purplebricks yesterday appears to fly in the face of claims it made in the past.
In July 2017 Mike DelPrete - a former head of strategy at New Zealand portal TradeMe and now ran international PropTech analyst - claimed that his interpretation of trading statements from Purplebricks suggested that as far back as 2016 the agency’s LPEs earned an average £41,925 per year. If this were the case, this was well in excess of average High Street agent income then and now.
And in September 2017 Purplebricks itself issued a statement saying that its LPEs typically had five years’ estate agency experience and many of them were former valuation managers, branch managers or area managers with High Street agents. And it added that they “tend to earn significantly more than they did when an estate agent on the High Street.”
In July this year the former UK chief executive of Purplebricks - Lee Wainwright, in a video interview with industry consultant Chris Watkin - disputed claims that LPEs “earned peanuts.”
"If you took any business that had 600 people doing the same job, you're going to have a bottom 10 per cent [or] 20 per cent that aren't earning what the top quartile are [earning], that aren't earning what they were told they were going to earn on recruitment because they're not performing at the average numbers" said Wainwright at the time.