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Revenue and global workforce up as Atkins steadies ship

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The number of architects employed by international giant Atkins both in the UK and abroad has stabilised

Earlier today (14 June) the AJ100-ranked big-hitter, which is the fourth largest employer of architects in the country, revealed a slight growth in the overall number of architects it employs, reporting ‘good progress’ for the year ending March 2012

According to its annual report, Atkins now employs 657 architects, up from 648 at the end of the preceding year. The number of architects employed in the UK however fell from 241 to 228 according to the figures.

Overall staff levels increased 2.6 per cent to 17,420 while revenue was also up 9.4 per cent at £1.7 billion.

The figures mark a sharp turnaround from its year-to-September 2011 results which showed a £34.3 million drop in turnover and the loss of 878 staff.

Atkins chief executive officer UK David Tonkin said the company was ‘looking at how to spin architecture around the world’ and allow the UK-based architectural division to assist with work overseas.

He said the company was now hiring in the UK and could take on new architects but said it ‘won’t be a massive drive’ with architectural staffing expected to be ‘steady as she goes’ this time next year.

Last month the global giant confirmed it had opened another new office in Qatar (see AJ 11.05.12) after trebling its headcount in the country in 12 months.

Back in the UK Major UK projects the company is working on include London’s £15.9 billion Crossrail programme and the overhaul of Birmingham New Street Station.

Tonkin was ‘cautiously optimistic’ over predicting a recovery in the market for UK architectural services, but later said water and the rail sector were ‘well-funded’ and pulled-in architectural design.

As official engineering design services provider for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Tonkin defended the London 2012 no marketing rights protocol which has repeatedly been criticised for preventing architects from promoting their involvement in the Games.

He said: ‘[There was] an open competition and we won the contract. I understand the point of view however we believe those rights should be upheld.’

Commenting on the 16 per cent fall in applications to study architecture at university reported by UCAS earlier this year, he said: ‘Engineering and architectural capability in the UK is absolutely important for the [country]. We have a great opportunity to disseminate the capability we have in the UK. It’s a good export.’

Around 50 per cent of Atkins’ revenue is drawn from outside the UK – according to today’s results. The company grew most in the Middle East where revenue was up 22 per cent to £171 million and headcount increased by more than 400 to 1,972.

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