Cost consultant Gardiner & Theobald has poached Tony Farmiloe, the head of property at rival Franklin + Andrews

Farmiloe, who had been at F+A for 26 years, will join the G&T work group headed up by Kevin Arnold, a former managing director of F+A. Former F+A executives Tony Venn and Mike Greenland have also moved to G&T.

Farmiloe, who resigned two months ago, is expected to join G&T next month.

His departure comes during a turbulent time for F+A. Building reported in May that consultant Mott MacDonald, which owns F+A, had embarked on a cost-cutting round that might lead to job losses at its QS division.

In its 2004 annual report and accounts Mott MacDonald said the management, economics and consultancy arm, of which F+A makes up about 60%, had been through “a very challenging year on a number of fronts”, and as a result there would be a focus on “controlling overheads”.

Guy Leonard, managing director of the division, said the cuts could hit director and junior levels but that only a “handful” of staff would be affected.

Keith Howells, managing director of Mott MacDonald, said in May that the company would be looking to increase the proportion of fee earners to non-fee earners.

The scale of job losses would be nothing significant

Keith Howells of Mott MacDonald

He added that the scale of job losses would be “nothing significant” but added that no decisions had yet been made.

Howells joined the group board in 2002 following a stint leading the firm’s water and environmental business. He has been with the company for 30 years.

Pre-tax profit for the group fell almost 13% to £11.5m for the year to 31 December 2004. Turnover rose 3% to £485m. The company said profit was down “partly due to contracting core markets and difficult trading conditions”.

Howells said the main concern was the UK transport business, because of uncertainty over road and railway projects, notably Crossrail. Mott MacDonald has a pension deficit of £83m and is paying £5.4m a year to make it up.

F+A and Mott MacDonald merged in May 2002 to create a consultant to rival Atkins. The merged firm had 7000 staff and a turnover of £400m. F+A were unavailable for comment.