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  • Mal McCallion

Purplebricks: Frankenstein’s Dumpster

Updated: Apr 26



“The combined strengths present a compelling opportunity for the business.”

 

Thus intones Sam Mitchell – the CEO of famed Frankenstein’s dumpster Purplebricks/Strike – talking about his creation’s brain (Strike – lost £20m last year) and body (Purplebricks – sold for £1 last year, to Strike).

 

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“Leveraging Purplebricks’ widespread brand awareness alongside Strike’s distinct approach to the real estate market, the company believes it is uniquely positioned to offer a strong value proposition.”

 

Mmm.

 

“Purplebricks’ widespread brand awareness” ought to really be qualified by what that “brand awareness” actually means – 3.7 stars on Trustpilot from 98,000 reviews, a quarter of which date from before 2017 (when PB was at its most ruthless in driving 5-star reviews, by grabbing them when they’d just overvalued a home by 20% and the vendor is delighted).

 

So this 3.7 would be even worse, were it not for these residual reviews from days of yore, when the Bruce Brothers’ ruthless reign was in its pomp. You'll recall this was also a time when £194m of investor cash was being shovelled into ad campaigns and the pockets of ‘Local Property Experts’, flying in from 30 miles away, to pretend they could sell properties for the same value as a quality local agent.

 

Perhaps if the current incarnation of Purplebricks cared a little more for their customers, they may not have convinced pensioner Wendy – who describes herself as “not confident in using technology” – to use them. When Wendy complained in a review on Trustpilot, the customer service rep’s level of training really kicked in when they invited her to “reach out to our Customer Services team via our website here - https://www.purplebricks.co.uk/contact-us”.

 



Yes, why not ask a pensioner – who has just articulated her issues with technology – to spend aeons on your chatbot, waiting for some offshored individual to finish up flogging a marked-up mortgage (which they get paid for) and get round to typing banal platitudes at you (which they get nothing for).

 

And Strike’s “distinct approach to the property market” that Dr Mitchenstein hails above? -£20m losses in each of the last two (published) accounting years. That takes the word “distinct” and really runs with it.

 

 

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The final giveaway about the confidence with which he and the Board really have in their product is here; “the company believes it is uniquely positioned to offer a strong value proposition.” A soup of corporate words with some distinctly underwhelming qualifiers – this isn’t going to inspire new investors, just attempt to placate current ones.

 

And what of those brave, hardy souls that continue to bankroll the company? Turns out that some of them are now getting 12% interest on an additional £17.6m ‘investment’ in the year to March 2023. Looks a tad like they're creaming off whatever cash there is ...


The other investors might question this – but without it, would this clunking, ded-eyed zombie be stalking our streets any more at all?

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