Architect could axe 10% of its staff

RSHP Leadenhall Building

RSHP’s office in the Cheesegrater. This won the practice a RIBA national award this summer, meaning it is in the running for the Stirling Prize

Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners has confirmed it has begun redundancy consultations with a number of staff because economic uncertainty has delayed “numerous” UK projects.

Around 10% of the workforce is affected, with the practice confirming the figure was “less than 20” staff.

The practice blamed the “current uncertain climate” as well as the fact that a number of large projects were reaching completion.

In its last accounts, which reported a modest rise in turnover and profit, the directors predicted turnover would fall this year because of the jittery UK market. They also warned that Brexit would cause problems for their business as well as the whole UK architecture profession.

In a statement about the redundancies issued today the partners said: “RSHP has experienced an increased level of delay and uncertainty on numerous UK projects due to the current uncertain climate.

“This combined with a number of large projects reaching completion has resulted in a predicted dip in turnover for the coming year.

“We have reluctantly concluded that we must reduce our resourcing levels to match our forecast project requirements.

“As a consequence RSHP has therefore entered into consultation with a small number of staff who may ultimately leave the practice.”

The news came as the government published its Brexit white paper which promised continued mutual recognition of professional qualifications.

It also said the UK wanted to “continue to attract the brightest and best, from the EU and elsewhere” to enhance the UK’s “attractiveness for research, development and innovation”.

It proposed a “framework for mobility” that would allow practices to move staff between offices, allow citizens to travel without a visa for temporary business activities, and allow students and young people to study at universities across the continent and take advantage of cultural experiences on both sides of the Channel.

RIBA chief executive Alan Vallance said: “With just nine months remaining until the UK leaves the European Union, the RIBA are pleased that the government has finally published its long called-for Brexit white paper.

“We welcome the proposals for continued mutual recognition of professional qualifications for architects – a measure that has been consistently highlighted as a top priority for the sector.

“However, the white paper concedes that the UK and EU ‘will not have current levels of access to each other’s markets’ and the government must, as a priority, spell out what the trade-offs will be.

“The announcement… will count for little unless the government delivers an agreement with the EU that furthers UK architecture’s global reputation for quality, innovation and high standards and ensures a secure post-Brexit future for our profession.”

Patrick Brown, head of insights & EU engagement at the British Property Federation, said: “One of the main features is a free trade area for goods, and this offers some benefits for real estate in terms of industrial occupiers, retailers who transport goods to and from the continent and in respect of building materials in the construction supply chain.

“Yet, it is often difficult to separate trade in goods from trade in services – such as is the case with maintenance contracts and guarantees – and there is no real clarity in the white paper as to how such blended trade will be treated.”