Foster + Partners has recorded its highest ever turnover, primarily driven by soaring workloads in the Middle East, Far East and South America as UK revenue fell
The UK’s biggest practice in terms of UK architects grew its revenue to £258 million in the 12 months to 30 April 2019. This was up from £212 million the prior year and arrested a two-year fall in income.
Asian revenue rose by 20 per cent to £71.3 million; Middle East income increased by 44 per cent to £54 million; and South American turnover grew by 227 per cent to £28.5 million.
North American, African and continental European income was also up. But UK revenue was down 7 per cent to £21.2 million, while Australasian income plummeted by 60 per cent to just £5.2 million.
Pre-tax profit across the group was up from £20.8 million to £21.5 million. Pre-tax profit margin dropped from 9.8 per cent to 8.3 per cent.
Total staff numbers rose from 1,266 to 1,317. Staff costs were up 9 per cent to £121.2 million, including a £25.3 million ‘partnership payment’ shared between the practice’s 155 partners on top of their annual bonus. Social security payments of £3.6 million were made on top of this.
Norman Foster, who founded the practice in 1967 and still acts as its chair 52 years later, was awarded a £6 million payment as the sole holder of C shares.
Fosters, which has 20 studios in 13 countries, opened offices in Shenzhen and Dubai in the last 12 months, and moved into larger premises in Singapore and Shanghai. But the practice’s London studio still houses 80 per cent of group employees.
Norman Foster said in the annual report: ’The global approach to projects is linked to the quest for finding the best young talent in the world, which leads to crossing borders and a team that is truly multicultural. The average age of the practice is now little more than that of the founding partners in 1967. The prospect of a restrictive Brexit and the rise of nationalism are threats to all of us who cultivate excellence through scholarship and diversity.’
The company this year completed a restructure that effectively saw a new parent company created, known as Foster + Partners Holdings, with Norman Foster as a director. The annual report said this move would ’transfer ownership of the practice among new and existing partners and provide a sustainable incentive framework for the future’.
It has been a mixed year in the headlines for Foster + Partners. The practice scooped the prestigious Stirling Prize last autumn with its £1 billion Bloomberg headquarters building in London.
But London mayor Sadiq Khan this summer rejected its much-hyped ‘Tulip’ tower saying the proposed 304m-tall tourist attraction was ‘of insufficient quality’ and would harm the city’s skyline.
Foster + Partners competition-winning proposal for a new headquarters for China Merchants Bank in Shenzhen