Coates, 62, is to be replaced by four senior managers. Three of these, Roger Fidgen, Colin Wyatt and Simon Jones, will lead the business. The fourth, Peter Sanders, will be managing partner in charge of administration.
Coates explained: "The company rules say that you have to go when you're 62."
Rivals have questioned the move. The senior partner in one QS said: "You need one person to lead. Three people sounds like leading by committee. It could take a long time for them to take fairly straightforward decisions."
Another rival expressed surprise that Fidgen was not appointed sole senior partner. "We see Roger out at all the cocktail parties and thought he was being groomed to succeed Michael," he said.
Another commented that it was a sign of the times to see a project manager – Jones – in control of a quantity surveying business.
Opera buff Coates said his proudest achievement had been working on the Royal Opera House, "because it's something we've been working towards for 25 years".
He added that he wanted to use his retirement to travel, but would continue to do some committee work for the RICS and the Construction Industry Council.
G&T's key projects under Coates
- Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London
- Home Office headquarters,Queen Anne's Gate, London
- Lord's grandstand, St John's Wood, London
- Embankment Place, London
- Cribbs Causeway shopping centre, Bristol
- Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (the Armadillo), Glasgow
- Glyndebourne Opera House, East Sussex
- Windsor Castle refurbishment, Berkshire.
WS Atkins subsidiary Faithful & Gould has bought quantity surveyor Yeoman & Edwards for £1.3m. Yeoman & Edwards employs more than 30 staff and works for Rover and GlaxoWellcome. Faithful & Gould will now employ 460 chartered staff.