AJ100 practice Darling Associates has confirmed it has shed staff and that the coronavirus is ‘directly affecting’ its day-to-day operation
The London and Manchester-based company said it had recently been forced to lay off nine members of staff, meaning that, together with a ‘reduction in recruitment’, its headcount had dropped from 120 in 2018 to 95.
The practice, ranked 25th in last year’s AJ100 league table, also admitted it was being hit by delays to its hospitality projects caused by the ‘coronavirus crisis’.
Managing director Chris Darling added that the practice was struggling to work productively with staff members self-isolating and working from home.
Asked about the lay-offs at the practice, which snapped up Cheshire-based Architect-CT in 2018 and was subsequently named the Fastest Growing Practice in last year’s AJ100, Darling said: ‘Sadly the rumours are true.
‘After 10 years of steady year-on-year growth and expansion of the practice, we are now experiencing a downturn in overall workload. We have managed this for the last few months, but eventually the only response possible is a limited number of redundancies.’
He added: ‘Our practice has, over the years, closely mirrored UK overall economic performance and with the UK at negligible or static GDP growth, we suffer.
‘In terms of sectors, our offices work is holding up well and indeed expanding. As is regional build-to-rent, especially in university cities.
‘However, new market residential projects are few and far between. High land costs and the necessary affordable housing provisions are slowing down such schemes coming forward. Our hotel work is also slowing.
‘Conversely elderly and dementia care-homes are expanding. So it’s a mixed situation.’
He went onto explain how the coronavirus pandemic was impacting the practice, saying: ‘[The crisis] is directly affecting us with staff off work self-isolating and unable to work productively.
‘Darling Associates’ ethos is to work collaboratively in teams, and home-working does not work well for us. We also have delays to projects on site or just about to start on site, particularly in the fast-track hospitality sector.’