NEWSFLASH! Purplebricks to move to fully employed status for its local property agents 

In an announcement to the City, Purplebricks confirmed this morning that it is changing its business model.

The announcement reads as follows:

Purplebricks, the UK’s leading tech-led estate agent, announces that it intends to move to a fully employed model for its Field sales agents, with the transition commencing today.

Updated business model to support growth

Since its foundation in 2014, Purplebricks’ disruptive model has resulted in the Company achieving the position of being the best-known and largest estate agency brand in the UK in its drive to deliver on medium-term market share targets.

The Company launched new pricing structures in July 2021, including a Money Back Guarantee and a simplified two-tier proposition. The national roll-out of these structures is underway and, as previously guided, the Board remains confident that these strategies will accelerate revenue growth, increase market share and drive progress towards the Group’s medium-term targets over the coming years.

The move to a fully employed model for Purplebricks’ agents represents a further enhancement to the Company’s business model, following a review of how the Company can best serve its customers, support its field teams in the future, and meet the demands of a strong market.

Strategic rationale for move to fully employed status

The Board now believes that moving to a fully employed model will ensure that the Company can scale up quickly to meet consumer demand and, to that end, the Company has already created a talent pool of over 100 of the best agents in the industry who are ready to join it as opportunities arise. 

Having ownership over the recruitment, training and management of a unified high-performing team will support the delivery of a consistently high level of service to Purplebricks’ customers across the country, including an enhanced opportunity to increase ancillary revenues.

Additionally, it will provide greater security and benefits to incentivise Purplebricks’ agents. The Company’s newly employed sales team will enjoy a highly incentivised package with the ability to work flexibly and remotely, in keeping with the Purplebricks entrepreneurial ethos and changes to ways of working that have come about because of the pandemic. Agents will also benefit from the rights that come with employee status as well as having access to many new opportunities for career development and growth.

Outlook and guidance

As guided in July 2021, it remains too early to quantify the benefit from the new pricing structures to the current financial year.

As a result of the move to a fully employed model, the Company is expected to incur exceptional non-recurring costs of c. £3-4m in FY22, with ongoing administration costs expected to be c. £1m higher in FY22 and beyond to support the increased size of the team.

The Board is committed to driving market share growth and there will also be significant increased investment in a new marketing campaign later this year, with the result that marketing costs for FY22 are expected to be c. £3-4m higher than previous guidance.

The Company’s medium-term guidance remains unchanged, and the Board continues to expect Purplebricks to be able to deliver annual revenue growth in excess of 20% in the medium-term, with confidence in the Group’s ability to deliver against its growth strategy.

 Commenting on this announcement, Purplebricks CEO Vic Darvey, said: 

“I am proud to be announcing plans to make our sales team permanent employees. The pandemic highlighted the challenges of being self-employed for many people – which is why we created the £2.2m fund to support the agency field during recent challenging times. As normality returns, we believe that moving to a fully employed sales model will benefit and support our people and make Purplebricks fit for the future.

Not only will this enable us to better protect and incentivise our agents, it will also allow us to scale up quickly to meet consumer demand, and continue to deliver a high quality, locally based service for our customers. It will also ensure that we can continue to drive a more consistent, high-performance culture and experience for all of our customers, helping us deliver a next generation estate agency service to buyers and sellers alike.

The Board strongly believes this move will increase market share and enhance performance in the coming years.”

 

How Property Industry Eye and Russell Quirk scooped this story yesterday:

OPINION: If this rumour is true, is it the end for Purplebricks?

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36 Comments

  1. Barnabus

    Changing to an employed set up will ‘help us scale up quickly’…what? why? How? You have to laugh don’t you.

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  2. AgencyInsider

    Can you just imagine the conversation (through tears of laughter) over the Bruce Bros breakfast table this morning?

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  3. JamesH79

    “ the Company has already created a talent pool of over 100 of the best agents in the industry who are ready to join it as opportunities arise. ”
    This seems unlikely on so many different levels.

     

     

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    1. ExTOgirl

      This is just leverage to get the current LPE’s in line.

      We have plenty of people to replace you…

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      1. AgentQ73

        Wonder what will happen to the TOs  ?

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    2. MarkJ

      Agreed. If you were one of the best agents looking to change Im sure you’d have more options than a PB definitely maybe sometime in the future. 

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  4. AndSotheStoryBegan

    The problem was that they “scaled up too quickly.” without the ability to execute. a.k.a having more money than sense.

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    1. bestandfinal51

      The problem was, they didnt charge enough! Simples.

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  5. MarkJ

    More front than Margate….Dont you just love it when people spin out something they HAD to do anyway…..

    So it looks like the Money Back Guarantee is trying to raise their conversion rate to pay for the extra costs of LPE being fully Employed.

    What about LPE employment status between April – August 2021?

     

    I know other companies that had to carry out this exercise in April 2021 …..why not PB?

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  6. Magic

    Ring Ring, Michael its Kenny have you seen the announcement tis morning, Yes Bro…….. i am just eating my sugar puffs reading PIE right now.

    All those self employed field agents that built this business are now going to be told that employed is better than self employed after convincing 1000 agents the opposite.

    Anyway, my horse is running at 3pm and I know you are looking at carpets for your new Rolls so have a good day.

     

     

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  7. Hillofwad71

    Trouble at Purple  Mill.
    This news will not be warmly received  by many field agents now looking to  transition   to PAYE   No wonder they are  setting aside a lump of money to compensate as franchise  agreements are being torn asunder .
     
      I think this is going to prove a little more costly than what they think .
     
      It  will be interesting to see how the City reacts  this morning to the news.
    Many field agents  will be looking to  change horses to  preserve status
    Talking of horses . Sporting Ken’s  appropriately  named RECALL THE SHOW is entered at Newmarket  on Friday the  13th!  
     
    It’s certainly been lucky for some!

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  8. Magic

    IF YOU ARE SELF EMPLOYED AND WORK FOR PB TAKE LEGAL ADVISE STRAIGHT AWAY…………….

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  9. Gangsta Agent

    Oh, employed!  Where do I sign?

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  10. Tornado

    I’m not sure that they can survive this…the costs stated are the bare minimum and if they suffer a load of legal ramifications it could be a disaster. Surely the likes of Keller and EXP must be looking at this and getting concerned. If a SE model can’t work when it is backed by multi millions of marketing spend how can it thrive when people are almost totally self dependant. Is this the time when it is accepted that a SE model for a large scale operation simply does not work in the UK

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  11. Robert_May

    “the Company has already created a talent pool of over 100 of the best agents in the industry who are ready to join it as opportunities arise”

     

    There are 3500 activity centres in the country, each activity centre supports at least 3 #local agents, the average number of agents on each is 6.

     

    Until any model finds a way of competing with 6 sets of staff, 6 local reputations and 6 selling histories it will struggle to compete.  It takes an exceptional agent to move between activity centres and to compete successfully on a new patch where they’re not known. (Ask any manager who gets moved to a new branch).

    I’m not sure what the carrot will be;  attempting to cover multiple activity centres with no USP in the armoury  is going to be hard work. The sort of individual capable of pulling that off would be better off with a Ewemove franchise  or setting up to cover one activity centre as an independent.

     

    IC35 made this inevitable and that was obvious from the get go.

     

     

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  12. Ric

    “the Company has already created a talent pool of over 100 of the best agents in the industry who are ready to join it as opportunities arise”

     

    So I can only assume it is a CV that has given them the impression they have 100 of the best agents, “ready to join”…

     

    You wonder why these 100 agents “the best” are not earning big dollar at their current companies, or indeed setting up themselves as Independent Agents (Hybrid or High Street).

     

    Unless they are the best 100 currently unemployed EAs in the industry… erm

     

    I would imagine there is a take up though, as signing off Sick with Stress for a year or so being paid will earn better than their LPE income.

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  13. htsnom79

    Vic Darvey is the Catherine Tate character in ” the offensive translator ” talking to shareholders, staff, city, Germans etc…

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  14. bestandfinal51

    And so it came to pass that the Territory Owner gravy train would come to an end.

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  15. revilo

    “100 of the best agents in the industry who are ready to join it as opportunities arise”

    What utter bull….!

     

     

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  16. majortom1

    Whole idea was to be your own boss -now you have a whole box of frogs managing what you do

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  17. M Barnard

    The Bruce brothers knew what they were doing didn’t they!

    Use other people’s money to build a brand. Walk away with millions and then leave others to pick up the ‘brown stuff’ that they were either…

    1) not interested in dealing with or

    2) couldn’t care less about knowing they would be well out of the way when it all came home to roost.

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    1. AgentQ73

      All those original TOs who put in the time and effort on the understanding they were building up their own business now left with nothing must feel like they have been taken for fools.

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  18. Property Ear

    Are these guys still not charging commission? If not, how the hell are they going to pay the wages! Commissary!

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    1. Property Ear

      Correction – Commisery!

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      1. PeeBee

        “Correction – Commisery!”

        Correction – #CONmisery

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  19. smile please

    Cant help but think this is a backdoor deal with HMRC regarding IR35

     

    HMRC have been very quiet on this and after coming down on others like Pimlico Plumbers, why have PB not been subject to the same rules?

     

    That aside, this is yet another rail in the coffin for PB. Massive added expense.

     

    To say they have 100 of the best agents is frankly laughable, the good self employed have jumped ship already and the staff they attract are dated dinosaurs or wet behind the ears newbies both of which would not last their probation period in a well run high street office.

     

    If PB did not work in the last 18 months, it will never work.

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  20. Certus

    So their balance sheet will now have tabs for pension contributions, sick pay, hol pay & NICs – everything they have avoided from inception

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  21. LooseScrew

    A bold move from the online giant. I believe their current staffing level will be dropping significantly…

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  22. PaulC

    This was bound to happen as IR35 completely stops what has been the status quo. (They had to do it eventually and the exposure only grows the longer they don’t do it)

    It might allow them to attract more fresh meat for the grinder who are risk averse as it gives them support basic from day one.

    It will also allow them to control their LPEs better which has apparently been a problem.

    Ultimately they are morphing into a traditional agent without branches and now with a household name.

    I actually think this is the right structure for them and yes they may have some grief with the change over they might lose some LPEs and upset some TOs but will come out the other side.

     

    Side note the money back guarantee is a joke with more hoops than should fairly be allowed but ultimately is legal from what I can see. And like the deffered payment will no doubt slip past most vendors.

    We all like to hate on PB but the MBG tactic is no different to most agents I come against still quoting %plusVAT which has been illegal for some time.

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  23. Ostrich17

    Recent changes to role descriptions/titles suggested they were going down the Ewemove route.

    What made them change their minds?

     

     

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    1. A W

      I hear that HMRC can be very convincing…

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  24. DefinitelyNotMW

    This is an acknowledgement that Purplebricks has not traded within the laws of the UK for their 7 years of existence.  SEVEN YEARS.  In that time they were allowed to make a £multi million float on the stock exchange.  Investors have been fleeced of their money by completely lax enforcement by officialdom.  The agents of Eye were able to point this out from day 1, costing some more than others on here, as curious alliances with official bodies were formed.  Money talked and virtue walked.

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    1. jan - byers

      investors – caveat emptor

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  25. PepeM

    Very interesting….. PB moving closer and closer to Traditional Agency Model. Proof perhaps that the disruptor, online, self employed, model just isn’t or ever going to be viable. Next step real branches ? Managers, Negs etc…..sound familiar ?!

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  26. Epicurus

    What a farce. The image that comes to mind is the beetle that you find in your garden lying on it’s back and wriggling one way and another trying to right itself – but all the time with no real idea which way is up.  

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  27. Probably Pork in the Pie

    “the Company has already created a talent pool of over 100 of the best agents in the industry who are ready to join it as opportunities arise”   really?  pull the other one, its got bells on!  No one in their right mind would move to PB now.  For 7 years they have been telling us self employed is the only way to go….. and now its not. 

     

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