QS and project manager AYH has distributed £2.1m of its profit to its staff in bonuses and share schemes.
This included a profit-share scheme for all 234 staff and discretionary bonuses worth a total of £1.6m. The firm also gave £500,000 in special bonuses to staff that have shares in the company.

Chairman David Thompson said the bonus schemes started when he led a management buyout of the firm in 1999. He said: "Everybody shares the profit.

We set a benchmark at the beginning of the year, and we had a slightly better year, so more was shared out."

The firm said almost one-third of the workforce now owned shares in the firm, and it expected this to increase to 40% by the end of 2002.

The distribution of the bonuses and shares failed to dent the firm's performance in 2001. Pre-tax profit surged 67% to £3.1m and turnover increased 38% to £22.2m for the year to 31 December 2001.

Thompson said the 14% margins were largely a result of the high proportion of repeat work gained during the period, rather than work bid for against competitors.

He added that for the first time in its history, the firm carried out less that half of its work, 49%, in quantity surveying. The rest was on other services, including project management, due diligence and facilities management consulting.

The firm said it expected only a small rise in turnover in 2002. Thompson said the main factor holding back the company's expansion was a shortage of skilled staff. He said: "There are not enough good quality people available to give the service that I would like to give to our clients."

The firm is working on high-profile London projects such as the £250m Arsenal stadium and the Paddington Central office development.

Last year, the firm restructured into sector-oriented divisions, including hotel and leisure, stadiums and fit-out, moving from a structure based on professional skills. It also established a new division, called additional disciplines, that covers services such as engineering audits and surveying.