Foster + Partners plans redundancies after Brexit uncertainty

Britain’s largest architectural firm, Foster + Partners, plans to lay off nearly 100 people, and blamed the uncertainty around construction projects caused by last summer’s Brexit vote.

The company, whose London projects have included the Millennium Bridge, the Great Hall redevelopment at the British Museum and the Gherkin tower, said the cuts would mainly affect staff at its headquarters in Battersea, south-west London. It said “a cross-section of the team” would be affected, from administrators to architects. The move was first reported by Construction News and its sister title the Architects’ Journal.

The firm, founded by Foster and his wife in 1967, said: “Foster + Partners has grown significantly over the last two years with a record number of projects, many of which are now close to completion.

‘This, coupled with some uncertainty in the construction market, has led us to make some adjustments to our practice, which regrettably includes some redundancies enabling us to balance numbers with our current and foreseeable workload.”

The latest accounts show that the company employed more than 1,250 people in London in the year to 30 April 2016, out of a global workforce of nearly 1,500, from New York to Shanghai.

The company’s last big round of redundancies was in 2009 at the height of the financial crisis, when it cut about 300 jobs globally and closed offices in Berlin and Istanbul.

While the firm’s turnover rose from £188m in 2015 to £225m in 2016, its full-year pre-tax profits dropped from £51.1m to £33.4m. Most of its revenues are generated overseas.

Costs, including its wage bill, increased as it hired about 150 more people compared with 2015. However, the directors’ combined pay, including pension payments, was slashed to £5.9m from £14.1m, partly because their number was reduced to 10 from 13. The highest-paid director, thought to be Foster, took a big pay cut – from £1.9m to £758,000.

Foster + Partners is known for the restoration of the Reichstag in Germany, which includes a glass dome from where visitors can peer into the parliamentary chamber, and has been shortlisted for the revamp of the Palace of Westminster.

The company recently designed Bloomberg’s vast new European headquarters in the City of London, which is bigger than the nearby Bank of England. It has also designed some of the new apartment blocks at the former Battersea power station.

The author: Margareta STROOT

Margareta Stroot, a multi-talented individual, calls Brussels her home. With a unique blend of careers, she balances her time as a part-time journalist and a part-time real estate agent. Margareta's deep-rooted knowledge of the city of Brussels, where she resides, has proven invaluable in both of her roles. Her journalism captures the essence of the city, while her real estate expertise helps others find their perfect homes in the vibrant Belgian capital.

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