Purplebricks said it planned to expand in Australia on Thursday, as the fast-growing online estate agent posted a quadrupling of revenues since listing in the UK last December.
Backed by the high-profile fund manager Neil Woodford, the company has sought to carve out a slice of the estate agency market with a so-called “hybrid” business model. It has no physical branches, but recruits agents — mainly on a freelance basis — in an effort to combine an online platform with offline customer service.
The company’s revenues rose to £18.6m in the year to April, up from £3.4m the previous year. But Purplebricks widened its losses over the period to £11.9m from £5.4m, partly because of £1.4m of costs relating to its initial public offering.
Purplebricks said it expected its UK business to move into profit this financial year.
Its share price rose nearly 6 per cent, to 139p, on Thursday morning. The price has increased by more than a third since the IPO last December.
The company, which operates across the UK, said it planned to expand into Australia this year, investing up to £10m in the country’s property market.
“In just our second full year of operation, we are leading change in an industry that has long been stagnant and is only now waking up to the opportunities and threats posed by technological advance and changing consumer behaviour,” Purplebricks’ chief executive Michael Bruce said.
“While others are following, we have retained our leading position, with 62 per cent of the non-traditional estate agency market and look to replicate this success in Australia,” he added.
Purplebricks had 205 agents at the end of April, up from 165 before its float. The company said it expected to employ 245 agents by the end of this month.
Instead of the percentage-based fees of agents such as Countrywide and Savills, Purplebricks charges a fixed £798 plus value added tax, or £1,158 plus VAT in Greater London, chargeable whether or not a home is sold. Services such as agents handling viewings incur extra fees.
Purplebricks said it had sold £2.8bn of property in the 12 months to the end of April, with a further £1.7bn sold subject to contract.
The company declined to specify how many properties were sold last year, but Mr Bruce said the number of sales was “around 12,000”.
The company — in which Woodford Investment Management has a 28 per cent stake — logged 1.23m visits to its website over the period, compared with 400,000 a year earlier.
Traditional estate agents have expanded their online offerings in recent months, in an apparent effort to compete with Purplebricks and other digital agencies, including eMoov and easyProperty.
Countrywide’s move followed an investment by Savills, the country’s largest listed property agency, in Yopa — a fixed-fee “hybrid” agency that launched in January — as part of a £16m funding round.