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AJ100 Club discusses effect of Brexit on architects' businesses

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Manchester Business School analyst Bruce Tether addresses breakfast event at Claridge’s

An insight into this year’s AJ100 survey was presented to AJ100 members this morning by Bruce Tether, professor at the Manchester Business School.

Each year Tether analyses the data in the survey on behalf of the AJ. Speaking at the first AJ100 breakfast club in the 2016/17 season at Claridge’s on Friday (1 July), he explained that the overall number of architects employed in the UK by the AJ100 had almost returned to pre-credit crunch levels in the latest survey (see presentation attached).

2016.09.07   AJ100 Graphs   Architects Employed 1995 2016

At the end of 2015, he said, practices were generally optimistic and growing, with London-based firms doing particularly well. They were also predicting further modest growth he said, adding that last week’s referendum result placed a question mark over this.

Examining measures of business performance such as UK income per architect, Tether observed that there was a huge variation across AJ100 firms. He suggested there were clear opportunities for architects to add value to their businesses through measures such as joining forces with other firms and optimising measures such as the proportion of architectural and non-architectural staff.

Using the online Sli:do Q&A platform for the first time at an AJ100 event, Tether asked the 100-strong audience via their smartphones and tablets how many other practices they considered to be close competitors for projects. The most common answer – from 41 per cent of the 46 individuals answering the question – was ‘six to 10’.

Discussing how the AJ100 survey could evolve, the audience expressed interest in business benchmarking, with 32 per cent of 31 respondents saying their practices used a specific source or service for this purpose.

Questioned on how Brexit would affect British architects over the next five to 10 years, a large majority said it would be ’slightly damaging’.

Tether is professor of innovation management and strategy at Manchester Business School (MBS) within the University of Manchester, a position he has held since October 2011. He studies the business performance of design and project-based industries such as architecture, and how these evolve over time.

The morning was hosted by AJ managing editor Will Hurst, who thanked sponsors Aliva, Bespoke, Deltalight, Equitone, Graphisoft, Grohe, Hoare Lea, Miele, Schluter Systems and Schueco for making the programme possible.

The next AJ100 breakfast will take place at Claridge’s on 9 September, when the keynote speaker will be Victoria Hills, chief executive of the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation.

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