Most of the 878 staff lost from the UK business this year worked in Atkins’ transport division

Consultants Atkins has lost over 800 staff from its UK operations in the last year as activity in foreign markets outperforms the UK.

In a half yearly statement from the group this morning it reported global growth in full time equivalent staff of 2,059 compared with last year and an increase in opperating profits of £4m.

However, this picture was not reflected in the UK. Operating profits fell 20% to £24.6m and average staff numbers over the first six months of the year were 878 lower than the same period last year.

The statement read: “As anticipated, the UK market remains challenging.  The year on year revenue decrease reflects staffing reductions, the majority of which were completed by the end of the last financial year.  

“Since 31 March 2011, we have seen underlying headcount stabilising, with the slight reduction in the six month period primarily reflecting those staff in our highways and transportation business already on notice of redundancy at the end of the last financial year.”

The group experienced growth in overseas markets, principally in North America where it acquired consultants PBSJ Corporation earlier this year. Its worldwide energy business also performed well with operating profits up 20% in the first six months of 2011-12 compared with the same period the year before.

“The year on year growth in our overseas and energy businesses means that they now represent more than 50% of the group’s revenue,” said the group.

David Tonkin, UK managing director at Atkins, said he expected UK work to comprise only around 25-30% of Atkins’ business in five years. “But that’s a function of growth outside the UK rather than shrinkage within the UK,” he added.