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AJ100: Initial survey results reveal 11.5% fall in overseas fees

Early results from this year’s AJ100 survey of the UK’s top practices show that three-quarters are still seeking work abroad despite falling fee levels

Nearly three quarters of the country’s largest practices are still ‘proactively’ seeking work abroad despite falls in overseas fee income.

Results from this year’s AJ100 survey, to be published on 9 May, show a surprise drop in the amount of fees coming from abroad into the UK offices of the country’s biggest-hitters, falling by around 11.5 per cent to £200.8 million.

Among the 91 practices that supplied their overseas fee income to both this and last year’s AJ100 rankings, architectural fee income to offices based overseas also fell. The 5.5 per cent year-on-year fall, from £636 million, accounted for £35 million-worth of fees.

Yet, despite the troubled foreign market, about 70 per cent of AJ100 practices reported ‘proactively’ seeking work abroad – the same proportion as last year.

University of Manchester professor of innovation management and strategy Bruce Tether – who compiled the statistics – blamed oversupply in struggling foreign markets for the gloomy financial picture.

He said: ‘This is a disappointing finding, as many companies have looked overseas for work, given the stagnant situation in the UK. It seems there are just too many firms chasing a limited amount of available [overseas] work.’

More than half of respondents (56 per cent) said they were on the hunt for jobs in established European Union member states, the Middle East, United Arab Emirates, Dubai and Qatar.

Meanwhile, 48 per cent of the AJ100 survey respondents said they were looking for work in new EU member states, as well as China, Hong Kong and India.

Areas of significantly declining interest included the United Arab Emirates, which saw a 21 per cent reduction in outfits looking for work, and newEuropean Union member states, where interest fell by 18 per cent.

Almost 4,000 architects are now employed by AJ100 practices overseas – just 800 fewer than the total payroll in the UK – and nearly half of all ranked studios employed at least one architect overseas.

A UK Trade & Investment spokesperson said: ‘The UK is an international centre of architectural expertise, offering an unparalleled depth and diversity of experience that is in demand worldwide. A high number of prestigious and creative UK-based architects do most of their important work outside the UK.’

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