Firm shuts down its quantity surveying arm RPA as part of a redundancy and restructuring programme

Hyder Consulting has shut RPA, its QS arm, as part of a redundancy and restructuring programme intended to return the engineer to its “core business”.

It has emerged that Hyder quietly closed the Cardiff-based QS on 24 April, making 22 staff redundant. It had bought it for £2.8m in 2007.

RPA’s two original directors, Ian Parfitt and Nick Soady, are understood to have been in talks to buy back the business since the start of the year, but failed to secure a deal.

They have now set up on their own under the firm’s original name, Richard Parfitt Associates, which Hyder does not own. In May, they agreed to complete the work RPA was engaged in as a subconsultant to the engineer.

A source close to the talks said RPA was vulnerable to the downturn because it had little public sector work and because large private sector clients, including Tesco, had cut their fees.

Parfitt said: “Am I disappointed? Yes, but mostly it’s disappointment for the staff.”

Am I disappointed? Yes, but mostly it’s disappointment for the staff

Ian Parfitt, RPA

A source at RPA said: “The business was sold to Hyder because it promised to invest for growth. That growth didn’t happen.”

When Hyder bought RPA in 2007, it had 33 staff. By the time it closed, there were 22.

Russell Down, Hyder’s finance director, said: “The property market in the UK has moved quite significantly and we have gone back to core operations. About 100 people from our UK business were made redundant; part of that was RPA.”

The news is seen by some as an example of the dangers of QS firms joining large engineers.

Stephen Tandy, managing director at QS Pierce Hill, said: “My view is QSs should always be independent if they are to look after clients’ interests properly. If you've run your own shop and you join a much bigger and more rigid organisation, I can imagine that could cause difficulties.”