After axing commercial personnel, the UK's largest architect is now hiring staff with public sector experience.
Building design Partnership, the UK's largest architect, made about 20 staff redundant last year as part of its switch from commercial projects to public sector work.

Chairman Richard Saxon said this week that BDP was now recruiting staff with expertise in the health and education sectors as fewer commercial schemes were going ahead. He said: "There has been a shift from commercial work to public sector work, largely through PFI. We're building up our health team to meet that. Sometimes a person with expertise in commercial developments will not necessarily have the skills for a hospital."

BDP is part of the consortium, led by Bovis Lend Lease, that is preferred bidder for the £146m PFI hospital at Havering, east London.

The new recruits mean that overall staff levels have not changed from last year's 770, despite the redundancies. Saxon said: "A few staff were laid off … but these have been masked to a large degree by recruitment in other skills bases."

BDP was the sole equity contributor for a PFI school in Northern Ireland and Saxon said it had learned from that deal. He said: "We'd like to get into more deals as an equity partner so we're on the same side as the rest of the consortium instead of being kept at arm's length."

Saxon was commenting as BDP's results for the year to 20 June 2001 were revealed. Pre-tax profit increased from £501,000 in 2000 to £1.2m and turnover increased from £39.8m to £45.1m.

Saxon said: "2000 was a tougher year, so this is a good result." He added that turnover would be about £50m this year.

About 25% of the firm's staff have bought shares in BDP after an ownership scheme was launched last summer. Staff can use a percentage of their salaries every month to buy the shares and BDP hopes to eventually raise £1m. The shares rose in value from 200p last year to 224p. The share price is set each year in agreement with the Inland Revenue.

  • Foster and Partners, the UK's second largest architect, made a pre-tax profit of £3.5m in the year to 30 April 2001 compared with £3.1m for the previous year. Turnover was £34.5m.