A former vice-president of sales at Foxtons has been appointed interim CEO for Purplebricks’ US business.
How long Phil Felice’s tenure could last is a matter of conjecture but it could be only a matter of weeks, with an update on Purplebricks’ American business expected in early July.
Amid considerable turmoil, he takes over from Purplebricks co-founder Michael Bruce, who was ousted from the global business earlier this month at the same time that it was announced the Australian business would close.
Bruce had stepped in – briefly as it turned out – to oversee Purplebricks in the US after the departure of Eric Eckardt in February.
Felice will now play “a pivotal role in determining the group’s options for delivering the next phase of growth in the US”, Purplebricks told the stock market yesterday.
The US business is undergoing a strategic review, while Purplebricks in Australia is tidying up loose ends after shutting to new business.
Felice was previously vice-president of sales at Foxtons in New York for five years, between 2003 and 2008.
He joined Purplebricks in 2017 in the same role.
Before then, he spent two years as head of sales at Hubzu, an online auctions business, and has also been a vice-president at Realogy.
Foxtons’ foray into the North American market in 2000 proved ill-fated. Based on under-cutting the opposition by charging around 3% commission as opposed to the normal 6%, it filed for bankruptcy in 2007.
Vic Darvey, group chief executive officer at Purplebricks, said yesterday: “We are currently assessing a number of different scenarios around how we operate in the US but remain optimistic about the opportunity for Purplebricks here.
“Phil will be fundamental in helping us develop a more sustainable business model, based on a tested and cost-efficient strategy.”
Felice said: “Purplebricks has made positive headway with our brand awareness and engagement in the US to date.
“Over the coming months, I look forward to working closely with Vic and the leadership team as we develop our strategy for the US business and show our customers a more convenient, transparent and cost-effective way of buying and selling their homes.”
Purplebricks said it will provide a further update on the progress of its US strategic review at its full year results on July 3.
Yesterday the share price closed down almost 3% at 101p.