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Markets shrug as Purplebricks awaits confirmation of new chief executive

Purplebricks ended the trading day yesterday without being able to formally welcome its new chief executive but the markets appeared to shrug off concerns.

Helena Marston was due to start as chief executive for the online agent yesterday, replacing Vic Darvey, who quit last month for "personal reasons."

But an update released just as markets opened yesterday morning revealed that the necessary due diligence for Helena's role were not yet complete, meaning the appointment remained subject to completion of these checks.


The online agent's share fell by 5.5% as markets opened to 21.2p but ended the day at 23p, down just 1.22% from the end of last week.

The reasons for the delay are unclear and Purplebricks declined to comment further.

Russell Quirk, former boss of eMoov turned property PR commentator, described it as catastrophic.

He told Estate Agent Today: "The whole thing has gone from bad to worse to farcical

"If Purplebricks can't even exit a chief executive and then install the next one properly, what hope is there for righting the ship?"

Other commentators were more measured.

Former housing market analyst Anthony Codling, a previously fierce critic of Purplebricks and now chief executive of Twindig, says: "I think that it is in the best interests of shareholders that the proper procedures are being followed, they are there for a reason, a case of 'act in haste, repent at leisure.'

"Essentially the FCA guidance is that a director of a company must be 'fit and proper' - this is intentionally vague, but what it means is that it requires a company to demonstrate that it has taken all reasonable steps to ensure that the proposed director is fit and proper to act on behalf of shareholders.  

"It is of course open to interpretation, some checks are easy 'has the person ever been disqualified from acting as a director', do they have a criminal record etc - others could be more nuanced such as do they have the appropriate experience for the role they are being asked to do. 

"What could be holding things up - it could be something as simple as they are waiting for the results of a DBS check."

Marston only joined Purplebricks in May 2020 as chief people officer 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.


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