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Online estate agent Purplebricks defies Brexit turmoil as profit rises
December 5, 2016 / 7:46 AM / 10 months ago

Online estate agent Purplebricks defies Brexit turmoil as profit rises

Dec 5 (Reuters) - Online estate agent Purplebricks Group Plc has seen a sharp rise in six-month profit as its low fixed-cost business model helped it weather the turmoil hitting its bricks-and-mortar rivals since Britain voted to leave the European Union.

Purplebricks, backed by fund manager Neil Woodford, said gross profit rose 153.6 percent to 10.4 million pounds ($13.2 million) in the six months ended Oct. 31, from 4.1 million pounds an year earlier.

First-half revenue grew 159 percent to 18.7 million pounds, exceeding sales reported for the whole of its previous fiscal year, while new business increased by 108 percent, it said.

While strong demand from first-time buyers has helped housing sales in most of Britain recover from an initial post-Brexit dip, estate agents Countrywide and Foxtons have issued warnings due to continued hesitancy in the property market.

Online estate agents are putting pressure on traditional rivals at a time of economic uncertainty thanks to their lower costs and flat-fee business models.

Purplebricks said current trading was showing similar year-on-year new business growth with no material slow-down from seen after the referendum.

“Although we recognise that the UK market backdrop is tough, we continue to have a confident outlook for the future,” Purplebricks said in a statement on Monday.

“We have momentum, a superior, low fixed-cost flexible business model and a strong balance sheet, which we will leverage further in the early part of the busier spring market so as to build on our success to date,” it added. ($1 = 0.7876 pounds) (Reporting by Esha Vaish in Bengaluru, editing by Louise Heavens)

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