Focus on Asian market comes after appointment of new chairman, Stuart Rough

Top 10 UK architect Broadway Malyan has restructured its business to target rapid expansion in China, after appointing a new chairman, Stuart Rough.

Departing chairman Melvin Davis will join the practice’s Shanghai studio, which is to double in size from 30 to between 55 and 60.

Building can also reveal that the practice’s Shanghai-based team has snapped up the prestigious job of masterplanning the redevelopment of the 130km2 site used for the 2010 Shanghai Expo.

In an exclusive interview with Building, Rough - previously head of the practice’s Lisbon office and a member of the Broadway Malyan board - said the architect, which returned to profit (of £686,000) in the year to April 2011 after a £2.3m loss the previous year, would continue to target international expansion.

Broadway Malyan’s China studio moved to new premises in downtown Shanghai last month to enable further expansion and Rough - who has helped set up the studio - revealed that it has poached Jean Wu from global consultant Hyder as the studio’s director of architecture.

Rough said the firm is planning to target more work in China’s interior and may open satellite offices in the country in the next few years.

Rough said: “It is fantastic to be invited to do [the Shanghai Expo job]. The Chinese pagoda will be retained but we have plans to give the entire area new life.”

The masterplanning job will be delivered with three Chinese planning teams for the Minhang district government.

At the Lisbon office, Rough had experience setting up offices in Brazil and Africa, typically following existing Lisbon clients into these new markets.

He said the firm saw particular growth opportunities in masterplanning internationally and expects all three of the studios the practice has launched this year - Sao Paulo, Mumbai and Istanbul - to grow rapidly.

The practice’s Istanbul office is supporting design of the world’s third tallest tower, a proposed Turkish skyscraper that will reach a height of 571m.

The firm will also use its Singapore base to push further into South-east Asia and increase its presence in Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Broadway Malyan has seen its staff numbers grow rapidly over the last year and a half from 462 in April 2010 to 550 this month.

Speaking about the 2010 loss, chief executive Gary Whittle said: “Like most of the profession we reacted a little bit late to the shift in circumstances. We did ultimately look at the cost
base - but those are always difficult decisions.

“The only office we closed was Edinburgh. We’ve been able to maintain our geographic spread.”

Rough added that the main challenge for the business was growing margins, particularly in the UK. He said the return to profit showed the “success of our international strategy”.

Two-thirds of the practice’s turnover came from international markets last year, compared with 44% in 2010. Revenue overall was up a quarter in 2011 to £41m, from £32m the previous year. Whittle said the firm was on course to hit its target of £47.5m turnover this coming financial year.

broadway malyan figures