Consultant looks to expand as UK revenues fall

Consultant Cyril Sweett is eyeing a move into the US market as it bids to become a genuinely global firm in response to declining UK revenues.

Chief executive Dean Webster told Building that Cyril Sweett was “evaluating its US options”, an area where the firm currently has no business. He declined to specify whether that meant an acquisition, partnership or major contract win was on the cards, and would not give a time frame for any move.

However he said: “If we want to become a truly global player the US is somewhere we need to be, and from there we could access Canadian and Latin American markets. Historically we’ve done this kind of thing by alliance.”

Webster made the comments as Cyril Sweett reported half-year pre-tax profits which stalled at £1.3m despite the purchase of new businesses in Asia and Australia in the last six months. The statement said the firm would consider “carefully selected acquisitions in order to accelerate our advance in new markets or locations.”

Reporting results to 30 September this morning, the firm said revenues had increased by 7% on the same period last year to £35m, with profits flat. Without acquisitions, organic revenue fell to approximately £31m from £32.7m, the firm said. Earnings per share decreased from 1.7p to 1.6p over the same period.

The share of the firm’s revenue from the UK private sector market halved compared to the same period last year, down from a turnover of £10.2m to £5.8m, principally from a collapse in commercial office revenue, down from £5.5m to £2.1m turnover.

However, Webster said the firm should not now be judged by its performance in the UK market, as 60% of its current forward order book now came from overseas, and more than half of staff were now based outside of the UK. This compares to almost two-thirds of revenue in the last six months being from the UK.

In July Cyril Sweett bought China’s third largest QS, Widnells, and completed the purchase of Australian consultant Padgham & Partners, adding in total more than 400 staff to the company, and contributing £4m in revenue since then.


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