Despite closing its Sheffield office, the acquisition-hungry practice increased the number of architects it employs in the UK from 79 in 2014 to 90 last year. It also expanded its ranks overseas, employing 146 architects – up from 113 the previous year – and opened an outpost in Dubai. Overall, its staff numbers swelled to 178 in the UK and 204 overseas, boosted by natural growth in its Berlin and Frankfurt offices and, primarily, by the purchase last summer of the Cyprus-based practice John R Harris & Partners as part of a drive for work in the Middle East.
The AIM-listed group, which saw total fee income rise by 10 per cent to £27,553,000 in 2015, has grown further this year after acquiring the entire share capital of Shankland Cox, a 106-strong practice based in the United Arab Emirates, in February.
UK projects completed last year include a 13,000m2 ward block at Bristol Royal Infirmary, accommodating 150 medical and surgical beds, a 21-bed intensive treatment unit, two day-case theatres, a paediatric clinical investigation unit, a medical assessment unit and support services.
Following a ‘very strong’ 2015, UK managing director Luke Schuberth expects the UK business to ‘stay level’ in 2016 and says that after four years of growth, it is ‘probably sensible’ if things do flatten off.
‘I think it’s become more stable generally, and I think Brexit has slightly greyed and muddied decisions, which has just caused a shorter-term slowdown,’ he says.
‘We have projects that have slowed. Nothing has stopped, interestingly, but they have just slowed where the client is waiting before they make a decision to go to the next stage.’ This three-month ‘pausing effect’ may make this summer quite busy, he adds, if clients decide the situation is stable and ‘all press go at once’.