EC Harris remains bullish about its plan to float on the stock exchange although it has lost almost one in five employees and its revenue has tumbled by 17.6%

Revenue at the consultancy was £270m in the year to 30 April 2010, down from £327.8m in the previous 12 months. Pre-tax profit was £34.1m, down 14.1% from £39.7m in 2009.

The fall in revenue casts doubt on EC Harris’ ambition to go public in 2013 because the firm has said the move is dependent on revenue of between £400m and £500m.

However, chief executive Philip Youell (pictured) said the company was forecasting that it would come out of the recession strongly, recording revenue growth during the calendar year 2010.

“The plan for IPO [initial public offering] recognises four years of growth to come,” he said. “We knew we needed to turn the business around and we know we need to be bigger, but that is what we are doing.”

Youell blamed the drop in revenue on uncertainty about new projects caused by the global financial crisis and said the situation could have been worse had the company not diversified into new areas, such as oil, gas and energy.

“We moved to sectors where we could see continuing investment,” he said.

The average number of staff employed in the year to 30 April 2010 was 2,679, down from 3,280 in the previous year, a fall of 18.3%.

Youell attributed this to the “changing nature of work”, with an increase in the number of temporary staff at the expense of permanent employees. But he expected staff numbers to have grown again in 2010, in line with revenue.

He also said that EC Harris would acquire businesses rather than selling up itself.

“Since I joined in 2003 and indeed prior to that, interest has been there with both tentative and firm approaches, but it has not been right for us,” he said.

“We need to grow the business quickly and are identifying other firms that can go on a journey with us.”

2010 Results

Revenue down
17.6% to £270m (2009: £327.8m)

Pre-tax profit down
14.1% to £34.1m (2009: £39.7m)

Average number of people employed
2,679 (2009: 3,280)

Pension deficit
£15.8m (2009: £7.4m)