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Can Purplebricks thrive with a CEO without agency experience?

The Purplebricks share price remained relatively unchanged yesterday following the shock announcement that chief executive Vic Darvey was quitting the company at short notice “for personal reasons”.

The company’s share value has flopped 85 per cent in the past 12 months and far more over a longer period - the market capitalisation of Purplebricks in 2016 was some £1.2 billion whereas now it is around £40m to £50m.

Industry gossip during the day yesterday centred on the controversial decision of the Purplebricks board to once again appoint a chief executive - like Garvey himself - with negligible estate agency experience.


New CEO Helena Marston takes up the role on April 4 following mandatory due diligence checks to satisfy London Stock Exchange rules.

She only joined Purplebricks in May 2020 as Chief People Officer (the agency’s name for head of personnel) and took over the role of Chief Operating Officer at the end of 2021. 

She has no estate agency experience outside of Purplebricks, having held human resources roles at Virgin Media, Kuwait Energy, Jaguar Land Rover and Vodafone.

Purplebricks reported a half-year loss in January because of the shortage of homes listed and higher staff costs created by its own move to turn self-employed operators into in-house staff. 


Purplebricks’ fortunes have contrasted sharply with almost every other player in the UK industry; most agents and associated firms such as portals and suppliers have boomed as a result of the exceptionally strong housing market.

Darvey joined Purplebricks in 2019 and took over as CEO following the departure of Michael and Kenny Bruce. His time in office has been marked by a business model revamp, a threat of class action by disgruntled former local property experts, and a costly compliance problem in its lettings division. 

The day before his departure was announced, there was substantial activity amongst Purplebricks shareholders. 

Investors offloading almost 20m shares in the company with Jupiter Fund Management selling all of its remaining stock, prompting some observers to speculate that a takeover was on the cards.

  • Algarve  Investor

    Beginning of the end for the agency, I would have thought. How many more scandals and resignations can it handle?

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    • D G
    • 11 March 2022 16:08 PM

    When your CEO leaves and your share price rises. (where's the laughing face emoji on this keyboard???)

  • icon
    • D G
    • 11 March 2022 16:09 PM

    When your CEO leaves and your share price rises. (where's the laughing face emoji on this keyboard???)


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