Estate agent Purplebricks enters Canadian market with acquisition

Antrim-based company acquires Canadian online operation for €33m

Online estate agent PurpleBricks has acquired a Canadian commission-free real estate service. Photograph: iStock

Online estate agent PurpleBricks has acquired a Canadian commission-free real estate service. Photograph: iStock

 

Purplebricks is expanding its North American footprint and making its first foray into the Canadian market through a £29.3 million (€33.1 million) deal.

The online estate agent confirmed it would take over DuProprio/ComFree, which owns and operates a commission-free real estate service network with an online offering that Purplebricks said mirrors some of its own services.

Purplebricks is led by Co Antrim brothers Michael and Kenny Bruce, who were new entrants on the Sunday Times Rich List this year with a net worth of about £216 million.

The company said it presented “attractive opportunities to quickly grow market share in Canada”, where it hoped to capitalise on an “extensive buy-side revenue opportunity” across the country.

DuProprio/ComFree’s real estate market share has built up to 20.2 per cent in the province of Quebec. It also recently launched in Ontario, where it now holds 2 per cent of the market.

That is on top of a push into Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, where it accounts for about 2.3 per cent of the local real-estate industry.

Purplebricks said it was planning to pump an extra £15 million into DuProprio/ComFree to fund its expansion across the country over the next two years, to be funded through profits generated in Quebec and its own cash reserves.

DuProprio/ComFree management, led by chief executive Marco Dodier, will stay on board after the acquisition is closed later this week.

The company, which was founded in 1997, employs about 400 people.

Highly attractive

Michael Bruce, global chief executive of Purplebricks, said: “DuProprio/ ComFree developed a strong presence in delivering a flat-fee, cost-effective, professional real-estate service to the people of Canada, challenging the conventional agency market.

“Their model of bringing a range of service packages and support, with access to expertise, from coaches to legal professionals, is proving highly attractive to the Canadian public, and has aspects in common with the Purplebricks model and ethos in the UK, Australia and the US.”

Last month the online estate agent confirmed it was launching in Las Vegas and Phoenix, nine months after first dipping its toe into US real estate.

Its start in Los Angeles last September was followed by roll-outs to San Diego, Sacramento, Fresno and New York.

Those moves have been funded though a strategic investment by German media publisher Axel Springer, which bought an 11.5 per cent stake in the business in exchange for a £125 million investment.

It included a £100 million subscription of new shares to help turbo-charge Purplebricks’ US expansion.

– Press Association