Pascall + Watson is to close its branch office in Doha, Qatar, after difficult trading conditions in the Middle East hit the practice’s pre-tax profits
The company’s accounts for the year to 31 December 2017, released last week, showed a rise in turnover to £22.6 million from £20 million last year.
However, pre-tax profits slipped from £2.6 million in 2016 to £2.3 million for the year, which it attributed to provisions set against aged debt from overseas work, ‘emanating from relatively difficult trading conditions’ at its Irish and Middle Eastern offices. Administration expenses also rose from £3.6 million to £4.7 million
A directors’ statement released alongside the accounts said: ‘At our Abu Dhabi-based branch office we have experienced significant volatility in the marketplace and are forecasting reduced growth in the region over the next 12 months.
‘A number of projects have either stalled or provide difficult trading conditions and, as a result, we have determined to close down our office in Doha, Qatar.’
The branch office opened in 2013. At the time, managing director Phil Holden said: ‘This country has a fantastic opportunity to develop its infrastructure, leisure and sports facilities over the next 10 years and our portfolio fits perfectly with its ambitions.’
The 2017 statement added that the firm’s Abu Dhabi office remained flat this year ‘with a reduction expected in the next 12 months unless trading conditions change’.
In November last year Pascall + Watson’s Louvre Abu Dhabi, designed in collaboration with Pritzker Prize-winning French architect Jean Nouvel, opened to the public.
Turnover for the firm within the UK rose during the year from £14.6 million to £17.4 million, accompanied by a fall from £1.2 million to £1.1 million in the rest of Europe and from £4.2 million to £4.1 million in the rest of the world.
During the year, Pascall + Watson won education projects worth a total of more than £56 million from the University of Creative Arts, Queen Mary’s University London and Brunel University.
The company, which was recently shortlisted for the AJ100 Executive Architect of the Year, was also appointed to a framework created by Bath University.
In the transport sector, it began detailed design work on six new stations on the Elizabeth Line, with construction expected to start later this year.
The practice also undertook work at Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Birmingham, Manchester and London City airports.
At the end of the year, the practice employed 200 staff across its UK and Ireland operations, an increase of 30 per cent.