Boss of rival consultant Richard Steer compares Arcadis to fast food chain McDonalds

The chair of rival consultant Gleeds has hit out at EC Harris for its planned multi million pound sale to Dutch engineer Arcadis.

Richard Steer, chairman of Gleeds Worldwide, said that clients will suffer as a result of the move, revealed by Building this morning, which he said was part of a wider industry shift away from independent cost consultants.

Steer said: “All the usual platitudes will be made about maintaining the service levels as before, increased international support and broadening of the skill set, but frankly on a year by year basis we are witnessing the demise of the independent construction consultant, and the clients and market in general will suffer as a result.”

EC Harris’ move follows on the heels of the takeover of Halcrow by CH2M Hill, Davis Langdon by Aecom and Scott Wilson by URS within the last 18 months.

EC Harris said the move, which will retain the consultant as a Limited Liability Partnership sitting underneath Arcadis, was driven by the need to expand geographically in order to support multinational clients. However, Steer compared “foreign owned engineering conglomerates” such as Arcadis to McDonalds, as they don’t offer bespoke services.

He said: “EC Harris, like Davis Langdon and Halcrow before them, had a heritage and a past that said something about the UK construction consultant.

“That is not to argue that huge foreign owned engineering conglomerates are not successful but they… are massive industrial machines that offer a one-size fits all service. It is like comparing McDonald’s to a specialist restaurant. Creating a project is not like making a burger: sometimes you need something that is unique and bespoke.”

He said he received news of the merger “with nothing but sadness.”

You can read Steer’s full article here.