UK’s biggest quantity surveyors plan to cut staff as drop in private sector work causes fees to plunge

Some of the country’s biggest QSs are making dramatic staff cuts, signalling the increasing impact of the credit crunch on the sector.

Gardiner & Theobald has put employees on notice of redundancy as part of a consultation that could culminate in up to 99 workers – about 9% of UK staff – losing their jobs.

Faithful + Gould, Capita Symonds and DBK are also cutting jobs as funding for private developments dries up and fears grow that public spending will be cut.

EC Harris said it was considering redundancies and Davis Langdon, which got rid of 13 staff last month, is understood to be looking at further cuts.

The news comes in the week that the UK unemployment total rose at its fastest rate for 17 years to 1.79 million.

Gardiner & Theobald said its decision followed a decline in fee income in some parts of its UK business. Tony Burton, a partner, said: “We have quite responsibly commenced a process that allows us to consider a reduction in staff. The legal process in progress allows us to consider a range of 20 to 99 in number. No decision has yet been taken about any redundancies and cannot be until the process is complete.”

Faithful + Gould, the QS arm of Atkins, announced it was cutting about 40 jobs (3% of UK staff) as a “necessary response to the downturn in the commercial property market”. Capita Symonds has let 13 go in its structural engineering team in Cheadle Hulme and DBK is cutting about 24 staff (15%).

QSs are facing a decline in fees as clients ask for discounts and firms desperate to win work drop their prices. Currie & Brown said it was losing out to bargain-basement tenders – up to a third cheaper than its own bids.

A G&T employee, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “It is a very sensitive time. People know there is a full-blown redundancy process going on but nobody knows who is going.”

The RICS urged the government not to let job cuts affect the drive to build up skills in the sector. Policy officer Damian Cleghorn said: “We need to focus on the long-term goals.”