The top 10 quantity surveyors have increased their staff by 7% in the past year, with Davis Langdon & Everest slugging it out with Currie & Brown for the title of biggest recruiter: both have increased their numbers by almost 100. Across the rest of the chart, staff increases are slightly lower – the top 10 to 20 firms show a 6% increase. Only eight of the top 75 firms show a decrease in staff numbers.

DL&E has switched places with EC Harris to take the number two spot in the table; Gardiner & Theobald and Franklin + Andrews have also changed places, while Faithful & Gould remains above it all at the top for the second year running. Bucknall Austin in its new incarnation, Citex, has crept from ninth to eighth place, MDA stays static in 10th position and only two firms move down: Gleeds and Turner & Townsend.

Overall, QSs are less confident than their building surveying cousins in terms of recruitment, although all report heavy workloads. MDA, which is listed as having slightly fewer staff this year than in 1998, has been "actively recruiting" of late, according to director Graham Kent.

According to Kent, the commercial sector has "bounced back", especially in London and the South-east, while in other regions, such as the South-west and around Leeds, the market is still fairly flat. Transport, communications, pharmaceuticals and even social housing are proving good hunting grounds.

Kent reports that QSs' fees are still "very competitive", but the company is hoping to steadily increase them by persuading clients to respect value for money. "It's QSs' only hope," he jokes.

Top 250 consultants