Going to a city centre in Britain may be about as cheery as an appointment with the taxman of late, but one company is seeing the upside.
Online estate agent Purplebricks has seen homeowners keen to stick their house up for sale and consider fleeing centres since the market reopened and stamp duty under £500,000 was cut. The possibility of more home working has caused people to re-examine their living arrangements.
Boss Vic Darvey said there were signs of a market rebound nationwide: “The key driver is people moving out of cities and densely populated locations.” But he added the recovery is slower in London where Brexit and Covid concerns are weighing more heavily.
Annual revenues at Purplebricks fell 2.4% to £111.1 million and losses widening by £7.9 million to £9.4 million. The shares, which began the year at 130p, rose 10% to 51p.
Darvey added that around 10% to 20% of staff at the company’s headquarters in Solihull had returned to the office, but their coming back was down to “personal choice”.
On a lacklustre day, the FTSE 100 rose just 11 points to 5909 with the FTSE 250 down 45.37 points at 16,887.
Music investor Hipgnosis Songs Fund ticked up 1% at 117.8p on its latest acquisition — the catalogue of American crooner Barry Manilow, whose hits include Can’t Smile Without You.
Doorstep lender Non-Standard Finance paused plans to raise cash from shareholders after the City watchdog expressed concerns over some of its practices at its guarantor loans arm. It pledged to conduct an “in-depth review” but shares fell 25% to 3.97p.
Cruise operator Carnival was also in choppy waters, saying delays in getting approval to restart operations from the Italian government meant it had to cancel trips planned for this week and next. The stock dived 4% to 793p.
Insurer Hiscox has been under fire over not paying out on Covid business interuption claims, but the pandemic pushed it into the red. The Lloyd’s of London insurer put aside $232 million to deal with the crisis, up from $150 million previously earmarked for payouts including on travel and event cancellations. First-half losses hit $138.9 million and shares fell 6% to 734p.
City bankers are braced for a wave of business restructuring and insolvencies and investors today gained an option to buy into the hive of activity as K3 Capital bought Holborn-based Quantuma. Both firms specialise in advising SMEs, with Quantuma’s services including handling restructuring and insolvency, and K3 helping businesses to sell up. The deal builds on K3’s acquisition of research and development tax credit specialist Randd in June and will help grow the group’s scale in the UK and overseas. K3 shares rose 9% to 157p.