Purplebricks ended the trading day yesterday without being able to formally welcome its new chief executive, but markets seemed to ignore concerns.
Helena Marston was due to take over as managing director of the online agent yesterday, replacing Vic Darvey, who stepped down 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 had not yet been completed, meaning the nomination remained subject to the completion of those checks. .
The online agent’s share fell 5.5% when markets opened at 21.2p but ended the day at 23p, down just 1.22% from the end of the day. last week.
The reasons for the delay are unclear and Purplebricks declined to comment further.
Russell Quirk, former eMoov boss turned real estate PR commentator, described it as abysmal.
He told Estate Agent Today: ‘It all went from bad to worse until it was prank
“If Purplebricks can’t even quit one GM and then properly install the next one, what hope is there to right the ship?”
Other commentators were more measured.
Former housing market analyst Anthony Codling, once a fierce critic of Purplebricks and now chief executive of Twindig, says: “I think it is in the interests of shareholders that the proper procedures are followed, they are there for a reason, a case of ‘act in haste, repent at leisure.’
“Essentially the FCA’s guidelines are that a director of a company must be ‘fit and proper’ – this is intentionally vague, but does mean 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 the shareholders.
“This is of course subject to interpretation, some checks are easy ‘has the person ever been disqualified to act as an administrator’, does he have a criminal record etc – others might be more nuanced, as do they have the appropriate experience for the role they are being asked to play.
“What could delay things – it could be something as simple as waiting for the results of a DBS check.”
Marston only joined Purplebricks in May 2020 as Chief Human Resources Officer and took over the role of Chief Operating Officer at the end of 2021.
She has no real estate agency experience outside of Purplebricks, having held HR roles at Virgin Media, Kuwait Energy, Jaguar Land Rover and Vodafone.