Two senior members of staff leave troubled consultant to join EC Harris

Two directors in one of Erinaceous’ divisions have left to join EC Harris, continuing the exodus of senior staff from the troubled consultant.

Philip Darby was the managing director of Dearle & Henderson, a QS bought by Erinaceous in March last year. He will now head part of EC Harris’ public sector team and is expected to start within the next few weeks.

Peter Gudge, a fellow D&H director, is also leaving to join EC Harris. It is understood that a a number of other staff have left the division since November.

The departures of Darby and Gudge follow the resignations of Neil Bellis, Erinaceous’ chief executive, and Lucy Cummings, its chief operating officer and Bellis’ sister-in-law.

The D&H purchase, for £4m plus costs, was part of an acquisition spree that included a number of well known QSs, including Rose Project Services and Francis Graves.

When businesses go through a hard time, people want to work in a different environment

Graham Kean, EC Harris

That expansion has contributed to the firm’s financial problems; Erinaceous posted a pre-tax loss of £3.9m for the six months to 30 June 2007. The company has debts of more than £220m.

Erinaceous is carrying out a strategic review of its business, and this may lead to a management buyout of its commercial arm. The new company would have about 150 staff drawn from Dunlop Haywards, Egan Lawson and Douglas Duff – three other firms that have been recently bought by Erinaceous.

The firm is planning to raise about £100m through the sale of its profitable insurance arm.

Graham Kean, head of public sector work at EC Harris, said: “Whenever businesses go through a difficult time, people want to work in a different environment.”