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SMC accounts show path to founder McColl's resignation

SMC Group's annual accounts have been made public this week - showing the damning figures that led to the downfall of practice founder Stewart McColl, who resigned in May.

The report highlights the steady descent of the listed architecture group just months before McColl was demoted as company chief executive and, a few months after that, forced to resign.

According to the accounts, the company recorded pre-tax profits of £1.57 million by the end of 2006, down £995,000 from the previous year.

The slump in profits prompted a lack of confidence among the group's shareholders, leading to McColl's move from chief executive to deputy chairman, with Rodney Walker taking over the reins.

The accounts also show how McColl enjoyed an annual salary of £200,000, which dwarfs the average pay packet of a practice partner of £81,626, as published in this year's AJ 100 list.

The Scottish architect was moved aside in February, and then resigned three months later, after an unfavourable trading review.

Since the review, the group has admitted it will be closing some offices, and jobs have already been cut in an attempt to improve profits.

From 2005 to 2006, SMC Group purchased nine practices in an unprecedented display of buying power. However, some companies did not perform as well as others, leading to profit targets plummeting from £7 million to £5 million.

However, McColl recently told the AJ that his departure from the group he founded would not see him retire, and he has vowed to return to the industry.

by Richard Vaughan

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