Alsop & Partners has appointed a specialist in business turnarounds as managing partner and plans to grow by almost a third.
The firm has appointed Reg Marsh to head up the restructured firm. Marsh’s last two jobs have involved working for Lufthansa Ground Services and being director of US transportation firm Arinc.
Marsh aims to expand the business internationally based around key centres of work, particularly Toronto – where it has already built the dramatic Ontario College of Art and Design which opened last year – and Shanghai. The expansion is set to include up to 20 new staff.
Marsh was approached by venture capitalist R Capital, which bought a 40% stake in the firm last October. The previous managing director, James Allen, left prior to the restructuring.
Allen was followed by colleagues Christophe Egret and Dave West, who left to start their own practice, Studio Egret West.
The departures came in the wake of three project cancellations last year, which badly affected the practice’s finances. The Fourth Grace in Liverpool, the Millennium complex in Bangkok and a mixed-use scheme for developer Isis in east Manchester were all cancelled.
Speaking to Building in an interview to be published next week, Alsop blamed the demise of the practice on “bad financial management”. He said: “It wasn’t through lack of work or anything else – although I have to say the Fourth Grace didn’t help. But those things happen from time to time, we all know that. It was basically through bad financial management.”
Alsop has so far hung on to senior partners such as Stephen Pimbley, Jonathan Leah and Peter Angrave, but the firm is down to 50 staff. In December 2003 it employed 120.
Marsh said that in order to prosper the firm needed to market its role as a provider of challenging architecture as well as a designer of urban masterplans.
He said: “Perhaps people don’t fully understand that we do buildings as well as conceptual designs.”
Marsh added that his priority was to get right what the firm had and then potentially look to move further afield. “We need to ask ourselves if we want to spread our wings further,” he said.
Under the revised structure, a new company, Alsop Design Ltd, is trading as Alsop & Partners, with Alsop, Stephen Pimbley, new managing director Colin Gilmore-Merchant and R Capital in control.