Davis Langdon has bought space planner and architect DEGW for an undisclosed sum, amid continued efforts from top QSs to restyle themselves as broader consultants

Senior partner Rob Smith said Davis Langdon was not trying to compete with architects. Rather, he said the purchase would allow it to advise clients on more effective use of office space.

He said: “It is about effective and efficient use of space – we are not going to go into the delivery side.”

Industry commentators, however, speculated that DEGW’s design expertise would help the QS move into masterplanning and urban regeneration. One said: “No matter what Davis Langdon says, DEGW is a design firm. It will have to be careful not to damage relationships with architects.”

Smith added that his firm was gearing up to make further acquisitions in the high-end consultancy area and planned eventually to employ 750 people in the DEGW arm. DEGW has a staff of 145.

One consultant said it looked like the first step in a bid to become a mega consultant, and engineering would be next.

Davis Langdon will have to be careful not to damage relationships with architects

Industry source

But Smith denied this: “We have no plans to become an Atkins.”

Several of Davis Langdon’s competitors are already stepping up their efforts to move away from the traditional QS label. In December, EC Harris rebranded as a “built asset consultancy” and in January Turner & Townsend reorganised in a bid to offer an “end-to-end” service.

The government’s recently appointed Buying Solutions framework, which seeks project management and design as one offering, is seen as a driver towards a multidisciplinary approach.

Founded in 1973, DEGW has 12 offices worldwide. Clients include Microsoft, Google, Nokia, RBS, Deutsche Bank, BP and the BBC.