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HLM swoops for Sidell Gibson name

HLM has come to the rescue of a second major brand in less than four months, throwing its weight behind the rebirth of bankrupt former big-hitter Sidell Gibson Architects

The burgeoning practice, ranked 32 in this year’s AJ100, helped register the name of Sidell Gibson - formerly a limited liability partnership - at Companies House, promising to safeguard Sidell Gibson’s ‘well-respected’ brand name.

Back in May expansion-hungry HLM also snapped up the remnants of Llewelyn Davies Yeang, the 53-year-old health and aviation specialist, which had a workforce of about 35 before it went into liquidation.

As part of a separate deal brokered by former Sidell Gibson partner Geoff Barrett, it is understood another ‘regional’ company has re-hired most of the staff made redundant from Sidell Gibson’s Birmingham office in August.

Speaking about the ‘brand rescue’, HLM chair Chris Liddle said: ‘In line with our strategy to grow the HLM Group by safeguarding well-respected brands with a strong design and architectural heritage, and working closely with Ron Sidell, we are currently concluding a deal to assist Sidell Gibson to maintain its admirable position within the profession.’ 

‘We hope to be in a position to assist Sidell Gibson to continue its great work with its talented team and client base, just as we did with Llewelyn Davies earlier this year.’

He added: ‘The economic circumstances surrounding our profession have never been more challenging.  We owe it to our staff, clients and fellow professionals to bring the right balance of design and business skills to everything we do.’

Ron Sidell said: ‘We are delighted that HLM is looking to secure and support the Sidell Gibson brand. It’s great news for the team and for our clients, who have been hugely supportive and for whom I hope we will be able to continue our work.

‘HLM has a track record of using its resources and financial strength to allow great practices to carry on their work, while offering opportunities for design collaboration. That is a very attractive prospect.’

Sidell Gibson has worked on major high-profile projects including Windsor Castle, One New Change (alongside Jean Nouvel), Paddington Central, Snowhill in Birmingham and Reuters’ in Geneva.

Founded in 1973, Sidell Gibson had around 30 staff in its offices in Birmingham and Clerkenwell and specialised in office and residential design, hotels and historic buildings, reaching as high as 57th in the AJ100 rankings of Britain’s biggest practices in 2010.

Previous story (AJ 06.08.2013)

Sidell Gibson goes under: ‘We cannot hold out any longer’

Sidell Gibson Architects have ceased trading and expect to enter liquidation ‘in the next few weeks’

After declining revenues over the last three years, Ron Sidell, who founded the 40 year-old outfit, said the added hit of delays to two major pipeline projects led the practice into voluntary liquidation ‘in the best interests of our staff and creditors’.

‘We cannot hold on any longer,’ said Sidell in a statement.  ‘I personally, together with Cate Thomas and Geoffrey Barrett, have committed significant funds to try and carry Sidell Gibson through the downturn in project income.’

Sidell Gibson’s website became unavailable following the announcement.

The 43-strong practice which had offices in Birmingham and Clerkenwell specialised in office and residential design, hotels and historic buildings and reached as high as 57th in the AJ100 rankings of Britain’s biggest practices in 2010.

However by May this year the firm had slipped to 88th and its annual fee income had dropped to £1.37 million in 2012 from £7.3 million in 2008.

Although long-standing partner Richard Morton left to set up his own business last year, the limited liability partnership still listed six partners and six consultants among its employees. Sidell said that all staff ‘have been fully paid’ with the exception of the partners.

Baker Tilly Management Limited are assisting the practice, which worked alongside Jean Nouvel on One New Change, but have not yet been officially appointed to oversee the liquidation.

Ron Sidell worked on projects ranging from international commercial and banking headquarters buildings in Germany, Spain and France as well as leisure, retail, and hotel developments in Spain and Germany.

The practice had big ambitions and was looking even further afield for new business in Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Sri Lanka and was among several British architects hit by delays to projects in Libya two years ago following its internal conflict.

Ron Sidell was working on the 40-storey Medina tower in Tripoli, but said at the time that UK-based architects should not give up on the country. ‘You just can’t turn your back on a country, even in these terrible times,’ he said.

Since 2000 he was involved with several major projects in the City of London, Westminster, Camden and Hackney. He masterplanned the Paddington Central project for Development Securities, and was responsible for new commissions from Land Securities, Argent, Development Securities, Greycoat, MEPC and other leading institutional and private developers.

In 2009 Sidell Gibson acquired Crouch Butler Architects, a respected  practice based in Birmingham. Sidell Gibson previously worked on local projects including Colmore Row, Brindley Place, Snow Hill and with work under way at the Museum and Art Gallery

Sidell Gibson had also formed an association with John Miller + Partners Architects an award-winning practice specializing in design for arts, education and housing projects.

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