Foster + Partners has seen its turnover, profits and staff numbers fall for the second financial year in a row, according to its latest accounts
Figures for the year ending April 2018 show that income at the AJ100’s top-ranked practice fell from £245 million in 2017 to £213 million. This marks a 17 per cent reduction on the £257 million turnover posted in 2016.
The UK’s biggest architecture practice’s group accounts also reveal that pre-tax profits have fallen again. In 2018 the company made £20.8 million in profit, compared with £25.2 million the previous year and £28 million in 2016.
The practice’s annual statement also showed a reduction in the average headcount across the year from 1,425 in 2017 to 1,266 last year.
Although the company saw growth in Australasia, continental Europe and Asia, there was a decrease in workloads in the UK and North America, with significant drops in the both the Middle East and South America.
Explaining the fall in income, a spokesperson told AJ: ‘The reduction in turnover for the year to April 2018 has been due to the effect of several very large projects completing together and the impact of the reduction in the quantum of pass-through expenses (sub-consultants) – which are included in turnover.’
Our current order book is at near-record levels
They continued: ’We would not attribute this to the effects of Brexit but we continue to stress that we need clarity from the government on Brexit plans, as the strength of the practice relies on our ability to attract the best talent from around the world.
’Our current order book is at near-record levels.’
Earlier this year the company, which remains top of the AJ100 rankings for the seventh year, told the AJ it would consider moving its headquarters from London if a Brexit deal impacted negatively on its future recruitment of staff.
Managing partner Matthew Streets said: ‘We don’t want to leave London, but we – like any business – would have to consider that. If [Brexit means] we can’t attract world talent then we would have to go to somewhere where we can.’
Streets said that the practice, whose Bloomberg HQ has been shortlisted for this year’s RIBA Stirling Prize, needed to employ the globe’s brightest stars to maintain its position as ‘world leader’.
Extracts from Norman Foster’s note in the group accounts:
’The strength of the practice and its ability to compete successfully on the international stage is related to its ability to attract the best young talent from all over the world. This is true for many professional practices and enterprise in the United Kingdom and given the new era of Brexit it is a vitally important message that needs to be noted by our political leaders. The private sector that prospers through overseas trade also brings considerable economic benefits to London and the UK. Swift clarification on the trade implications of exiting Europe is also important.
’[As well as Bloomberg and Apple] 2018 also marked the completion of 12 other projects and the ground-breaking for three new buildings. The largest being Kuwait International Airport and the smallest being the tiny chapel for the Vatican in Venice for this year’s Architecture Biennale.
’The practice’s financial year has been successfully marked by a second consistent year of growth, despite a continued difficult economic climate. Central to this has been a broad range of projects across many locations. We continue to improve the net debt position ahead of our management plan.’
Foster + Partners’ Bloomberg building, which is shortlisted for the 2018 RIBA Stirling Prize