Shares in estate agents Purplebricks dropped more than 8% in early trading, after founder and chief executive Michael Bruce left the online company.

Vic Darvey, who had been the firm’s chief operating officer, will succeed Mr Bruce as chief executive.

Purplebricks also said it was pulling out of Australia and placing its US business under review.

Non-executive chairman Paul Pindar apologised to shareholders for its recent “disappointing” performance.

He said: “With hindsight, our rate of geographic expansion was too rapid.”

The company has operated in Australia for two-and-a-half years, but said the prospective returns from the country were “not sufficient to justify continued investment”.

Purplebricks is also cutting back investment in the US, although its Canadian business continues to flourish.

However, the firm is optimistic about its UK performance, saying in

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