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Bad debt sinks MBLA as tough trading conditions continue

Award-winning Manchester practice MBLA has become the latest outfit to go under as new figures show unemployment among architects is continuing to rise

The 24-year-old company, which once boasted a staff of 33 and traded under names including Mills Beaumont Leavey Channon, blamed non-payment of fees for its demise.

RIBA president elect Stephen Hodder, of Manchester-based Hodder Associates, described the studio’s closure as a ‘great loss’.

He added: ‘MBLA was a practice that really made contributions to communities. I find it alarming that really good companies are falling by the wayside. [Closures like this] will leave a void in the regions. It is quite distressing and shows we are in a two-speed country, with activity in London not witnessed elsewhere.’

A spokesman for MBLA confirmed the company, which is known for a raft of community housing schemes, health centres, the Lock apartments in Manchester (AJ 24.11.05) and for designing its own office (AJ 21.02.08), ceased trading last week. A creditors meeting is scheduled for Monday 8
October 2012.

The spokesman said: ‘The reason we have taken this very regrettable decision is primarily related to the non-payment of one large bad debt, which we have been unable to continue to absorb in these extremely tough trading conditions. The directors are exploring a number of opportunities moving forward to continue to support our clients and we hope to make an announcement in the near future.’

Latest figures from the Office of National Statistics reveal that the number of architects claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance rose for the second time in two months, up from 745 in June to 845 in August.

Meanwhile the latest Future Trends Survey results from the RIBA showed that a growing number of respondents were expecting to employ fewer permanent staff over the next three months – the RIBA Staffing Index fell to -3 in August 2012.

Readers' comments (3)

  • Very sad. MBLA have made Manchester a better place with architecture that was humane and always done with flair. One of the best (if not the best) practise in Manchester.

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  • Very sad indeed - Ian Beaumont and George Mills are two of the best architects I've had the pleasure of working with in the last 20 years or so. Hopefully a phoenix will rise from the ashes!

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  • I had heard rumblings, but had hoped they were just that. They are some of the nicest and most gifted architects we have ever had the good fortune to work with. Manchester will be less of a place without MBLA, and I hope Ian, Andy and the rest of the team come back with renewed vigor.

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