Quoted architect to move into healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors as pre-tax profit soars.
Aukett europe is planning a New Year attack on new markets and an expansion of its European office network. The only architecture firm quoted on the UK stock market is eyeing up the healthcare and pharmaceutical laboratory sectors.

It also plans to boost its internet infrastructure workload, which has trebled in the past year.

The planned move into new sectors came as the firm unveiled its preliminary results for the year to 30 September 2000. The firm reported a 39% increase in pre-tax profit over the past year, from £1.47m in 1999 to £2.05m in 2000.

Fee income for the year rose 35% from £15.41m in 1999 to £20.87m this year, including shares of joint ventures.

The move into new markets follows a sharp increase in the number of European offices from three to 15 in the past three years.

Financial director Robert Warner said: "Our current strengths are in office and retail and we need to be expanding into other areas like the hospital and laboratory sectors. We have people on the staff with a background in these sectors."

The firm has thrived in the internet infrastructure market in the last year. The percentage turnover derived from these schemes rocketed from 4% in 1999 to 12% in 2000.

We will look at acquisitions, but it is easier to grow organically

Robert Warner, financial director

Aukett Europe will move into the new sectors either by employing staff with a track record in these markets or through acquisitions.

Warner said: "We will look at acquisitions, but we are fairly cautious and will have to look long and hard. It is easier to grow organically and convince new clients to use us."

Warner said the firm was also looking to undertake PFI work in healthcare and eventually across the board. He said, "it is part of the general strategy", but stressed that the firm had set no targets for the expansion.

Warner said the firm would continue to open new offices in Europe but not as furiously as in the past three years while it focuses on building up the number of staff.

He said: "We are hoping the newer offices will expand to the level of 25 to 30 staff."