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Full cost of Foster's redundancy drive revealed in latest accounts

Norman Foster HR crop use
  • 1 Comment

Foster + Partners is expecting to boost staff numbers again this year, as it announced that it spent £2.1 million on just under 100 redundancies in the last financial year

The UK’s biggest architecture practice’s group accounts for the year to the end of April 2017 showed pre-tax profits falling to £25.2 million from £28 million the previous year.

The company’s statement also showed a reduction in the average headcount across the year from 1,480 in 2016 to 1,425 in 2017. However, this figure hid a larger number of redundancies made in the spring, which a spokesperson for the company put at ‘under 100’.

The spokesperson told AJ: ‘We are hiring again now, and our headcount will increase again over coming months. This is partly due to a number of new projects which we have won.’

The firm also said that it had made its first partnership payment to all partners – a £7 million windfall – a year earlier than anticipated in its 2014 restructuring business plan.

The AJ100 top-ranked practice added a further 11 senior partners during the year, including its first female senior partner.

its accounts show a large drop in revenues in the Middle East – from £100 million in 2016 down to £68 million last year.

However, Asian income rose from £30 million to £53 million, while UK revenue remained steady – rising just £1 million to £25 million.

In his chairman’s statement, Norman Foster alluded to the dangers that a hard Brexit posed to the firm, pointing out that 39 per cent of staff are from the European Union.

‘We thrive and contribute to the wealth of London by virtue of our ability to attract the best graduates from beyond our island nation,’ he said. ‘That is a strength and should be recognised as such.

We owe it to future generations to look outwards, not inwards and to positively encourage the influx of talent

‘London, wonderfully, is a melting pot for international expertise and needs to maintain that edge. It is already under threat.

‘Politics and morality aside, we owe it to future generations to look outwards, not inwards, and to positively encourage the influx of talent.’

During the financial year, the practice completed 13 buildings, including three Apple flagship outlets in London, Dubai and Singapore.

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It also completed a headquarters for CITIC Bank, Hangzhou, China; a mixed-use development and cultural centre at Bund Finance Centre in Shanghai; and the Principal Place office building in London for Amazon.

The practice also revealed its latest plans for the redevelopment of Slussen in Södermalmstorg, central Stockholm: a new three-level building, housing markets, cafés and restaurants, which opens out on to a series of public terraces looking out towards Mälaren (pictured below).

Foster + Partners has been working in Slussen since winning a major competition back in 2009, beating bids from Jean Nouvel and Mia Hägg, Carl Nyrén, Gert Wingårdhs and BIG’s Bjarke Ingels to land the watefront commission.

Meanwhile the 50-year-old practice has announced that it will be ‘opening more areas of our [London] studio than ever before’ as part of this year’s Open House London 2017 at the weekend.

A spokesperson said the practice’s riverside headquarters building at Hester Road, Battersea, would host a series of events including ‘live modelmaking, interactive screens, AR and VR experiences’.

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  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

  • John Kellett

    What! A practice the size and profit margin of Foster's cannot endure a small downturn of less than one year and retain staff is astonishing short term money led policy. Are salaried architects that dispensable? Shameful.

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