Ex-chief executive Houghton to lead KHK, new firm targeting blue-chip international clients.

Three former directors of top 10 quantity surveyor MDA have set up a new company that will target blue-chip national and international clients.

The firm will be led by Richard Houghton, the MDA chief executive who was voted out in a boardroom meeting in late March.

Houghton had registered a shell company called Houghton Consultants at Companies House but changed the name of the firm to KHK last month.

KHK stands for Kelly Houghton Kent, the three directors involved. Jim Kelly, formerly managing director of MDA UK, and Graham Kent, another former director, both left MDA on 3 April. Houghton departed on 30 March.

Houghton said: “We have other people coming on the board and we will be recruiting more people.”

In what will be seen as an audacious move by many in the industry, KHK is planning to target some of the world’s largest companies for work. “We want to work for blue-chip major clients both nationally and internationally. We are not looking for just domestic work,” said Houghton.

We will be the number one practice in a very short time

Richard Houghton, KHK

He added: “We will be the number one practice in a very short period of time. We do not want to be a second division player. We already have the quality and we will be looking to strengthen that position.”

The three directors have been marketing the venture via word-of-mouth and are planning a launch in the next two weeks.

“There is a huge amount of excitement out there as to what we are doing,” enthused Houghton.

Houghton and former MDA international director Ken Edmonds are trying to sue MDA for what they claim was wrongful dismissal.

They are claiming about £85 000 in damages because they say they were not given 12 months notice before their contracts were terminated. It is understood that MDA had until today to respond to the claims.