The new chief executive and chairman of Aukett, the only listed architect in the UK, is looking to make the firm the major stakeholder in a European umbrella company
Spanish architect Jose Luis Ripoll, who became chief executive and chairman last week, is Aukett's biggest shareholder. He ousted most of the existing management in an extraordinary general meeting last week after disagreeing with its strategy to pull out of Europe. Ripoll might create a parent group for Aukett and its linked practices in Europe.

Ripoll said: "Meeting with senior managers at Aukett I felt that there was a lack of vision and strategy. I have got the idea of forming a European umbrella company, but this needs to be fleshed out."

Ripoll is also concerned that the architect is too small to be a public company. He will either introduce a merger and acquisition strategy or move to the alternative investment market.

Ripoll was critical of the previous regime's financial performance – in 2001/02, the company posted a pre-tax loss of more than £2.4m – and it seems that other Aukett shareholders agreed. At last Friday's meeting they voted in favour of Ripoll's resolutions to remove non-executive chairman Ian Mavor, non-executive director Ian McQuattie, managing director Geoff Harwood and marketing director Stuart McLarty from the main board.

As non-executives, Mavor and McQuattie immediately left the company, while Harwood and McLarty remain employees. Harwood is ill at present and will not discuss his future until his return, and Ripoll is happy for McLarty to remain below board level.

Replacing them are former Aukett chairman Gerry Deighton and Stephen Beckers, an associate at Belgian architect Art & Build, as non-executive directors, and Ripoll in his new role. Ripoll's shareholding came through an investment by Imagina Management, his wife's practice.

Ripoll said that he planned to work in the UK during the week, but would see his family at weekends either in this country or in Spain.

  • Last week, construction conglomerate the Montpellier Group announced that group managing director Paul Sellars had stepped down from the board. Non-executive director Roy Harrison will take over as executive chairman until a successor is found.