UK’s biggest architect abandons regional office structure to concentrate on markets including retail, leisure, schools and offices.

Britain’s biggest architect, Building Design Partnership, has restructured to focus on market sectors rather than geographic patches.

The firm’s five regional offices are now “sector champions”, focusing on particular markets rather than general regional work. The sectors include retail and leisure, education, health and offices. All of these markets have been identified as growth areas for the firm, which also offers planning, engineering and QS services.

The restructure, which followed a practice conference held last November, will see regional heads become sector heads.

Chairman Richard Saxon said the move was part of the practice’s focus on customer demands.

He said: “Each sector is a completely different prospect and has different potential. By doing this, we can improve the ability and consistency in each sector. We want to stop thinking that clients grow on trees.”

Saxon, who has assumed the marketing director’s role at BDP to drive forward the change, said he had been thinking of the restructure for many years.

He said the view that architects can do any kind of work went against the way the architectural profession viewed itself. He added that: “It takes a long time for people to see this as working. It sounds likes a complication, but making the offices the host partner for the sector makes it simpler.”

Saxon added that the move mirrored contractors’ shift from being organised regionally to focusing on particular markets.

He said: “If you look at new work such as prime contracts, you see that contractors are diverging around customers.

“Location is losing its importance to businesses. You do not have to be all over the place in terms of branch practices. The offices should work across the country and Europe rather than thinking of themselves as regions.”

Saxon added that the health and education markets, especially school private finance initiative schemes, were particular growth areas. “They are clear whoppers,” he said.

Saxon said the firm had not included its transport, culture and defence work in the reorganisation as the growth prospects were not as strong in those areas.

BDP, which was the largest architectural practice in Building’s 1999 league table, had pre-tax profit of £1.1m on income of £40.2m for the year to June 1999.