Purplebriks chief to step down ‘due to personal reasons’

The chief executive of Purplebriks is to step down at the end of the month after almost three years in the job and will be replaced by the online estate agent’s chief operating officer.

Vic Darvey, who has led the group since May 2019, informed the board of his decision to leave “due to personal reasons”, the company said on Thursday.

Darvey, who will be replaced by Helena Marston from April 4, spearheaded an overhaul of the business but it has been plagued by problems over the past year including a shortage of new listings and increased costs following a decision to move self-employed staff to full employment.

Purplebriks’ shares have fallen nearly 85 per cent over the past 12 months. They were up 0.5 per cent to 14.57p in midday trading.

The company reported a half-year loss in January because of the supply crunch and higher staff costs, and a month earlier had revealed a potentially costly “process error”.

Purplebriks chair Paul Pindar said Darvey had “guided the business during a period of consideration of change and challenge, including building a strengthened senior leadership team focused on our tech-led growth”.

The UK property market has boomed over the past two years, boosted in part by a tax break introduced in July 2020 to help stave off the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Prices are continuing to surge despite rising mortgage rates.

Meanwhile, the wider upswing in global residential and commercial real estate markets helped drive FTSE 250 property group Savills to record revenues of £2.15bn last year, up 23 per cent on 2020, as it reported full-year results on Thursday.

Chair Nicholas Ferguson said it was too early to predict the economic impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the sector.

Savills expects transaction volumes to return to more normal levels this year after what Peel Hunt analysts called a “bumper year” in 2021. Its shares were up 4.1 per cent to £11.87 in midday London trading.

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