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Fosters' turnover and workforce up but profits dip

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Foster + Partners has added more than 100 staff to its workforce following a ‘stable year’ for the AJ100’s leading practice

According to the latest accounts for the year ending 30 April 2012, Foster + Partners Group’s turnover grew from £159.3 million in 2011 to £161.5 million while increasing the number of its employees across the globe from 1,036 in 2011 to 1,150.

However the figures, which were posted at Companies House last week, show that its profits dropped from £49.6 million in 2011 to £46.01 million this year, with the annual turnover per employee dipping from £154,000 to £141,000 in 2012 - less than that brought in during 2010 (£143,000 per employee).

Practice founder Norman Foster, understood to be the unnamed ‘highest paid director’, also suffered taking home just half that in 2011, cutting his previous income from £1.825 million to £920,000 in the 12 months to the end of April 2012.

Though workloads increased in China and Asia - from £50 million to £52.2 million - there were surprise drops in the Middle East (from £39 million in 2011 down to £32.67 million in 2012) and North America (from £29 million in 2011 to £27.4 million in 2012).

Other growth areas were in South America and Brazil where income almost doubled from £3.1 million in 2011 to £5.7 million last year. Closer to home the group also saw solid growth in the UK, with turnover up from £11.5 million to £16.4 million and its workload in Europe also edged up from £17.5 million to £19.95 million.

Foster said the company was continuing with its ‘expansionist activities’ claiming that 2012 had been a significant year which had seen some London-based staff move from ‘rental work spaces into new custom-designed studio and support spaces alongside our original Riverside building.’

Explaining how he manages to keep control over the output of the different studios, the 77-year-old compared his role to a pilot who ‘has to look at some of the instruments all of the time and all of the instruments some of the time’.

He said that the practice was looking to increase its research into ‘materials, climatology and operational studies’ and that despite the ‘increasingly digital world…the demands for physical modelling whether scaled models or full-sized mock-ups, continued to grow’.

He added: ‘Nothing can tell the story of a building as well as a physical simulation. This personal philosophy has now become an integral part of our design approach. This year marks a significant increase in the creation of full-size prototypes ahead of the start of construction.’



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