Chris Littlemore has stepped down as chief executive of NORR Consultants after eight years leading the firm during its various incarnations, including under the SMC Group and Archial banners
In an announcement released yesterday (11 March), the company – the UK architecture arm of Canadian construction company Ingenium Group - said Littlemore would leave at the end of this month.
Littlemore took over the reins at SMC Group in 2008 following the practice’s meteoric rise up te AJ100 rankings. He was also at the helm during the company’s dramatic fall that ended in administration and takeover by Ingenium in 2010.
The outfit was later renamed Archial NORR as a stepping stone towards full integration with the Ingenium Group’s existing architectural arm NORR. Last month all the UK studios officially rebranded to become NORR Consultants.
Yesterday’s statement said: ’The final piece of integration of the UK business rested with the brand name and this change was completed on 1 February 2016.
‘Chris Littlemore feels he has now completed all that he can in this role and will leave the business at the end of March 2016 to pursue new interests.’
Between 2002 and 2007, SMC Group undertook an aggressive acquisition policy, snapping up 14 practices including Corstorphine & Wright Kenzie Lovell and Alsop Architects.
The practice, unranked in 2006, took the number two spot in the 2007 AJ100.
Later that year the group’s ambitious founder Stewart McColl resigned from his position of executive and, as the credit crunch was began to bite in 2008, the company appointed Littlemore as its new chief executive.
In 2010, the company, renamed Archial, went into administration after failing to reach a deal with HM Revenue and Customs over unpaid tax bills.
The history of Archial NORR - now NORR UK
1996 Stewart McColl forms the SMC Group.
1997 SMC and Zeidler Architects formed in a joint 50:50 venture known as SMC Zeidler.
2001 the company acquired north England-based practice William Gower and Partners, forming SMC Gower Architects.
2002 SMC acquired Corstorphine & Wright Kenzie Lovell, to form SMC Corstorphine & Wright, providing a Midlands based addition to the Group
SMC Group Architects was also formed, divisions included: SMC Kemp Architects (specialising in small works projects) and SMC Urban Lab (specialising in urban brownfield sites).
As it became AIM-listed, SMC Group bought Corstorphine & Wright Hills Erwin and Philip Lees & Associates.
2005 The group acquired the architecture business of Dempster Thrussell & Rae to form SMC DTR:UK. The founding directors, Andrew Dempster, Andrew Rae and Paul Thrussell set up DTR:UK.
In December of that year, a specialist division SMC Education was formed. This division was formed to bring together all of the skills within the group related to education projects such as the Building Schools for the Future programme.
February 2006 The group acquired both Penrose (based in the south west) and CMC Architects (based in East Anglia).
SMC Group also acquired five more businesses notably Stirling prize winner and London-based architect Will Alsop, together with Davis Duncan, Hugh Martin, Jenkins & Marr and Parr Architects all based in Scotland.
May 2006 The group bought Bedford-based the Charter Partnerships Limited - a deal lead by the Partnership’s managing director Chris Littlemore
May 2007 SMC Group named second largest employer of architects in the UK (270 architects on payroll).
December 2008 SMC Group announced that it proposed to change its name to the Archial Group, following approval by shareholders. The change sought to improve the resilience of the business and the company’s reflection to working to a dedicated streamlined and unified fashion.
March 2010 Archial chief executive Chris Littlemore announced his intention to acquire new practices. He told the AJ: ‘I believe that we would like to be in the top ten globally in the next three to four years.’
August 2010 The company issued a profit warning to shareholders. Shortly thereafter share prices fell 61 per cent.
September 2010 Shares in Archial suspended and the company - then ranked as the sixth biggest practice in the UK - appointed administrators PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Later that month Archial Architects Limited and Alsop Sparch is sold to Canadian-based multi-disciplinary outfit Ingenium. New name announced, Ingenium Archial.
October 2010 Archial’s Cambridge, Ipswich and Bedford offices merged and relocated to larger premises in Cambridge
October 2013 Company posted a loss of £3.4 million and revealed it had shed more than 100 staff between December 2011 and 2012.
December 2013 Practice’s UK business rebranded as Archial NORR to tie in with the Ingenium Group’s architectural NORR brand in the US, Canada, the Middle East and Asia
June 2015 Archial Norr slips to 24th in the AJ100 league tables (69 architects on payroll).
February 2016 The company rebrands as NORR Consultants