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Archial set to acquire new firms

Archial Group chief executive Chris Littlemore has told the AJ that the giant is looking to expand despite a 20 per cent slump in profits

Speaking after the announcement of Archial’s preliminary results for the year, Littlemore said: ‘Moving from here, where we believe we’ve got a great platform, we will be looking at opportunities to grow in the UK and overseas.’

He added: ‘It would be both organic and acquisitive action.’

Archial’s turnover fell from £42.6 million in 2008, to £33.9 million in 2009.

The news harks back to before the recession when the architectural giant, then SMC, snaffled up a host of practices including Will Alsop’s studio. From 2004 to 2006 the company bought out 14 firms.

The group currently operates 16 offices in the UK and 6 offices abroad under the recently launched Alsop Sparch brand.

According to Littlemore, the practice coped with the difficulties of the past year by growing abroad and maintaining a ‘very strict’ control over its cost base.

He said: ‘International work in terms of our live order book represents a 3rd of all our fees, in 2008 it represented 13 per cent.’

Three studios in Glasgow were amalgamated and two offices in Edinburgh were brought together.

The firm took a ‘cost rationalisation process’ which saved £6.5 million this year and will tap annual savings of £10 million. ‘We lost 25 per cent of total workforce,’ admitted the CEO.

He said: ‘I’ve been practise architecture as a director for over 20 years and the past 18 months have been the toughest climate I’ve ever experienced, with our revenue reducing by only 20 per cent in the year 08/09 I think we have achieved a very big result.

‘A lot of people say you can’t operate a successful commercial business and deliver quality architecture, I think that’s rubbish, we’ve won awards both in the UK and overseas in 2009 and in previous year.’

Littlemore is particularly excited about his 232,300m² Ho Chi Minh City scheme (pictured) in Vietnam.

He said: ‘I believe that we would like to be in the top ten globally in the next three to four years.’

Littlemore would not be drawn on whether they would buy Nightingale Associates, recently put up for sale by parent-company Tribal.

Read Archial’s preliminary results, the statement and presentation.

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