A West Midland property website set up by the millionaire who founded the Birmingham-based online dating site Dating Direct has gone into administration.
Worcester-based Propertyindex.com, which was founded by web tycoon Darren Richards, called in administrators earlier this month after difficulties in the UK property market caused the business to hit the rocks.
Mr Richards founded DatingDirect.com during the dotcom boom with his business partner Andrew Pike before selling the online dating site to French firm Meetic for £30 million in 2007 after building it up to 4.5 million members.
Property Index, which covers both UK and overseas property sales and lettings, is continuing to trade, run by the firm’s chief executive Lee Bramzell working alongside 12 members of staff who have been retained.
Mr Bramzell’s own company, New Revenue Generation Consulting, has acquired a licence to allow it to carry on operating the website while it is in the hands of administrators MB Insolvency. According to insiders, Mr Bramzell is now lining up finance to buy the company out of administration and continue operating the firm with a focus on the more successful overseas property side of the operations.
“The international property portal will continue to deliver whereas the UK business really didn’t deliver – it was the level of competition in the market and also the downturn in property transactions that took it under,” said a source close to the deal.
The firm, which employed 51 people at the height of its operations and around 35 when it was taken into administration, was set up by Mr Richards in 2007 who was reported to have ploughed £5 million of his Dating Direct profits into the business. Property Index was originally launched as an overseas homes portal but began to move into the UK property sales and lettings markets in September last year.
Mr Richards, whose early business ventures saw him cash in on Tamogotchi trend in the 1990s by importing the Japanese “digital pets,” now lives in Tenerife much of the year.
In a statement on its website, administrators MB Insolvency said: “PropertyIndex.com was the UK’s fastest growing property website with thousands of UK estate agency branches signing up to advertise on a cost per lead basis every day, as well as numerous agents and developers marketing overseas property or sale and rent from across the globe.
“The company’s business is being continued, on a reduced basis, following a series of redundancies made by the company prior to administration, and interest in the remaining assets is invited.”