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RMJM chief says ‘no sacred cows’ as Edinburgh studio closes

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RMJM is to shut down its Edinburgh design studio after more than fifty years of practice in the Scottish capital

RMJM group commercial director Declan Thompson confirmed between 15 and 20 jobs would go as a result of the closure which is part of plans to consolidate the outfit’s UK business in London and Glasgow.

The move – which leaves the former AJ100 top ranked practice with just 40 employees in the UK – comes as RMJM Group chief executive Peter Morrison formally announced the merger of the embattled company’s European and Middle Eastern businesses in an email to staff (see below).

It also follows the departure of former RMJM Europe chief executive Jonathan French last week amid slurs in a leaked email between Morrison and Thompson. Harry Downie has been confirmed chief executive of the new company, named RMJM International and headquartered in Dubai.

Thompson admitted shutting RMJM’s iconic Bells Brae office – designed by the practice and used as its base since the eighties – was a ‘difficult choice’ but said: ‘There are no sacred cows in the RMJM business.’

The group commercial director explained the move created a ‘synergistically enhanced team’ which complimented the Middle East merger by bringing together the Edinburgh studio where the ‘vast majority’ of work was overseas and the Glasgow team which covered both UK and international work.

He said: ‘The Middle East business has won quite a bit of work and the market there is picking up significantly [whereas] European work is still difficult.’

He added: ‘From an operational point of view two offices would be better than three and it allows the design teams to sit in one office. While I appreciate there is some history in relation to the building it is not difficult severing physical links with a building and Glasgow is 40 minutes away.’

Thompson confirmed the company would now set about finding ‘more economical’ premises for its five administrative and financial staff which will remain in the Scottish capital.

Explaining the Middle East merger in an email to staff, Morrison said: ‘We have made no attempt to hide the difficulties we have had maintaining a Scottish business in the current market. I believe this change will create much opportunity and enhance our offering to our clients in both the Middle East and Europe.’


Peter Morrison’s announcement to staff

Dear All

As most of you are now aware we will shorty complete the merger of our UK business into our business in the Middle East, creating an enlarged business called RMJM International. RMJM International will be led out of Dubai and I am delighted to announce that Harry Downie has been appointed CEO of RMJM International with immediate effect.

Harry has been working on his plans for RMJM International for some time, driven by a significant upturn in the Middle East business.

The merger will provide a unique opportunity for RMJM studios in Scotland and London, to access what is now proving to be a very buoyant market place again, while allowing our current and new clients in the Middle East access to the talent base of our people in Europe.

I will leave Harry to communicate the specific details of his plans for RMJM International to you in due course, however, I wanted to communicate one specific operational change that he will be making.

Over the summer we will be consolidating our operations in Scotland into our Glasgow office. This will have the much needed benefit of reducing our operational costs in the UK and enabling the more efficient management of the enlarged region by Harry’s new leadership team. This change, which will result in redundancies in the Edinburgh office, will not impact on any of our clients or projects. Following this change, the UK presence of RMJM International will consist of two studios in London and Glasgow.

We have made no attempt to hide the difficulties we have had maintaining a Scottish business in the current market. I believe this change will create much opportunity and enhance our offering to our clients in both the Middle East and Europe.

Peter Morrison









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Readers' comments (1)

  • Of course there are "sacred cows" and we all know who they are. And they have been fattened by years of exorbitant salaries and benefits at the expense of the architects they have not paid.

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