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Results justify shake-up claims new Aukett chief

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The Aukett Group's new chief executive, Jose Luis Ripoll, has claimed poor results revealed last week justify the shareholder revolt that shook the company back in April.

On Thursday the international group of architects and engineers announced losses of £100,000 for the first six months of this year, compared with a profit of £270,000 in the same period in 2003.

However, Ripoll is confident in his ability to turn things round and he is adamant that the disappointing figures are proof that tough action was needed.

'I didn't need these results to show me we were doing the right thing, but if we had any doubts then, it's very clear now, ' he said.

'The only thing I can never forgive myself for is not having done this before.

I should have done it six months ago.'

And he pointed out that in the 12 weeks since the Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM), Aukett has already taken on 31 major new projects with fees totalling £6 million.

Among these successes is a major commission to design the headquarters for insurance giant Norwich Union.

'Defeat is not an option, ' Ripoll added.

'It's very good that the new projects have come so early after the EGM and it shows the changes have been well received by the market.

'We haven't lost one single client and people haven't lost confidence in us. Just the opposite.'

One of Ripoll's main aims is to unify all the arms of the business, particularly outside the UK, and as a result he has appointed Brussels-based Steven Beckers as managing director of all European operations.

'Before we had just a bunch of European practices working on their own, ' Ripoll said. 'And, though some were very successful, there was no connection between them.

'We want a sharing of knowledge, a sharing of information and a sharing of skills, ' he added.

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