Turnover also down as pay of highest paid director increased by 14% to £284,000

The UK’s largest architect, BDP, has suffered a 60% drop in pre-tax profit, its latest accounts have revealed.

The accounts, for the year to the end of June 2011, show that profit before tax fell to £2.8m from £6.8m the previous year while turnover dropped 17% from £96m in 2010 to £80m this year.

Despite the gloomy results, the pay of the highest paid director - who is not named in the accounts - rose from £248,000 a year to an annual figure of £284,000.

The accounts were published as BDP confirmed it was closing four of its regional offices - Belfast, Liverpool, Winchester and Edinburgh.

The 900-strong practice also last week saw the shelving of the Tithebarn, its £700m retail scheme in Preston, Lancashire, for Lend Lease, following the withdrawal of anchor tenant John Lewis. Building revealed last month that the firm is preparing to make up to 100 of its staff redundant due to public spending cuts and the delay of a hospital project.

Chief executive Peter Drummond told Building that the results were “disappointing”, adding that profitability had been hit because of the firm’s determination to try to protect salaries and resources. He said the firm’s drive for international growth was accelerating, with a larger office in Shanghai opened just two weeks ago.

Drummond added that the highest paid director was retiring early, which boosted his salary.

BDP’s turnover in the UK fell from £85m the previous year (to June 2010) to £62m, while rising in the rest of Europe from £4.4m to £5.2m and in the rest of the world from £6.4m to £12.2m over the course of the year.

The accounts also noted that no dividend had been paid to shareholders in 2011 and that the overall pay package for all directors had fallen from £7.2m the previous year to £5.9m.

The company also said that BDP Group had “significant cash resources” made up of £8m plus £12m invested in a corporate investment fund and a £1m overdraft with HSBC due for renewal in April 2012.

In terms of the office closures - a development that was not predicted in the accounts - BDP’s Northern Ireland office in Belfast will close its doors at the end of the year. It currently employs 18 people and has been operating since the sixties. The practice pointed to a lack of work as a reason for the closure.

The Winchester office is also expected to shut, while the Liverpool office will move to nearby Manchester. Staff from Edinburgh will move to Glasgow.

A spokesman for Tithebarn developer Lend Lease said the firm was already working on proposals for a new project but was unable to say whether BDP would be retained as architect.
The controversial scheme was first proposed in 2000, but only received planning permission in November last year on appeal.

BDP in numbers

Year to June 2011 Year to June 2010
Turnover £79.7m   £96.2m                                            
Profit before tax £2.8m   £6.8m                                  
Shareholders dividend nil £1.8m                               
Highest paid director pay £284,215 £248,227