Alan Brookes says green shoots of recovery there as consultant turns in record results

Arcadis’s chief executive has said he has revised his view of how well the UK economy will do this year with Alan Brookes admitting he is “more optimistic” about business prospects here than he was just a few months ago.

The consultant, which recently became the second biggest architect in the world, turned in a record revenue last year with income jumping a quarter to €3.8bn (£3.3bn,  in part helped by the acquisition of Canadian architect IBI.

Organic growth was up 9% with operating earnings up a third to €391m (£335m) with group margins now up to 10.4% from 9.8%.

alan brookes

Source: Tom Campbell

Alan Brookes became group chief executive last spring

The UK accounts for around 15% of the Amsterdam-listed consultant’s income and at one stage its work on HS2, which includes design work on the first phase and Curzon Street station in Birmingham, was its single biggest job in the world.

Brookes said “green shoots of recovery” were happening and added that any mooted interest rate cut from the Bank of England would see investors begin to move stalled schemes forward.

“We had a good quarter at the end of 2023 and if interest rates go down and we get a stable government, then things should really pick up. If rates go down, then more investment will go ahead. London is pretty active and I’m feeling more optimistic than I did about the UK.”

Arcadis is one of several firms, including Arup and Mace, that is looking at an alternative rail line between Birmingham and Manchester with former Olympic Delivery Authority chief executive David Higgins putting together a proposal for government.

The Higgins report is due out next month and Brookes added: “Our view is that if the private sector gets involved, we could complete this in a different way.”

Arcadis’s biggest business is in North America where it has 120 offices and Brookes said he expected workloads to remain stable and weather the impact of the US election in November.

The firm said business in Germany was getting bigger in the wake of that country’s move away from importing Russian gas following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine two years ago.

Arcadis’s order book was flat at €3.1bn (£2.7bn).