Up to 15% of Archial staff face redundancy amid restructure as RIBA says profession is ‘fragile’

The UK architecture profession remains “very fragile” the RIBA said this week following news that commercial practice Archial is planning to make up to 15% of its workforce redundant as part of a major restructuring.

Adrian Dobson, RIBA head of practice, told Building that practices of all sizes are continuing to struggle, with firms working in public sector areas other than infrastructure the hardest hit of all.

Archial, which went into administration in 2010 before being rescued by Canadian business Ingenium, said it had begun a consultation with those affected - believed to be up to 35.

It also emerged this week that around 20 former YRM staff who lost their jobs before Christmas when the firm was taken over by RMJM have been left with thousands of pounds in unpaid wages because YRM entered a pre-pack administration hours before the take over occurred.

“The data we have had coming back from our monthly Future Trends survey shows workloads stabilising,” Dobson said. “But everything is still very fragile and the examples of YRM and Archial suggest that things are still very difficult for commercial practices.”

Building reported last October that Archial employed 236 staff including 117 architects across 12 UK offices.

Chris Littlemore, Archial chief executive, said the firm was aiming to emulate Canadian sister practice Norr in terms of company structure in the face of what he called “another challenging year” to come in 2012.

“We are now considering adopting the methodology used elsewhere across the globe by […] Norr,” he said. “This would involve the creation of a small number of large ‘delivery studios’ servicing major projects, complemented by a multitude of regional studios.”