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SMC Group goes for aggressive expansion following flotation

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The architectural entrepreneur behind the SMC Group, which will be floated next month, has vowed to grow the business massively and aggressively over the next five years.

Stewart McColl, the firm's chief executive, claimed this week that SMC has several acquisitions lined up for the forthcoming year. He said the firm planned to grow by 60 per cent a year over the next halfdecade - both by buying firms in sectors and regional areas that fit with the current business and by incremental growth.

SMC's recent results back up McColl's confidence. They include a compound annual growth rate on turnover of 61 per cent since 2002. Additionally, in the two years from the end of December 2002 to the end of December 2004, SMC grew its turnover from £3.1 million to £8.1 million, and its profit before tax rose from £156,000 to £1.02 million.

SMC will be floated on the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange in June - a move that the firm hopes will give it significant cash to invest in its major growth plans.

McColl compared SMC's planned growth to that of Foster and Partners. He said: 'We want to be one of the best architectural firms in the UK and make profits through this route. We aim to be one of the best architects in the UK and grow through the quality of our architecture.

'Look at what Lord Foster has achieved through meeting the highest aspirations of his clients, ' he added.

McColl insisted that floating the business would allow SMC the opportunity for fast growth. He said: 'We will be able to utilise the capital from institutions and bring the finance back into the company.

'This is the difference between us and most of the rest of the architectural world, ' he added. 'We look at architecture as a business. We want to build a business that returns value to our shareholders by returning value to our clients.' McColl also said that he was unconcerned about Aukett's turbulent history as a listed architectural firm. 'This does not worry us at all, ' he said. 'We need to ensure that we can maintain steady and successful growth'.

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