But listed company remains tightlipped over identity of the practice for commercial reasons

Listed architect SMC Group will buy a signature practice before Christmas, chief executive Stewart McColl has revealed.

McColl said he was “very confident the deal will go ahead” but added that the identity of the firm had to remain secret for commercial reasons.

The news comes as SMC this week became the biggest architect in the UK, following an announcement that it had made five more acquisitions. SMC now has 416 qualified architects throughout the UK, compared with 281 at Building Design Partnership, formerly the UK’s largest firm.

Four of SMC’s acquisitions are in Scotland, making SMC the biggest player there. McColl’s company paid £10.7m in combined initial payments for the businesses, which will trade under the banner SMC Scotland.

The practices are Parr Architects, Jenkins & Marr, Davis Duncan and Hugh Martin Architects. They have a total revenue of £13m.

McColl said he could not rule out more acquisitions. He said: “We are constantly in talks with a number of practices. We are also looking in Ireland, Wales and Europe – specifically Sweden and Denmark.”

SMC has bought 13 firms since it floated in June 2005. Its full-year results in December is expected to show turnover up 152% to £34m and pre-tax profit up 150% to £7m.

The results for 2007 are also forecast to increase steeply. Turnover is predicted to increase 300% to £55m compared with the same period in 2005, and pre-tax profit is likely to pass £12m.

SMC’s clients now include BAA and Pacific Quay from Parr Architects, BP and Sainsbury’s from Jenkins & Marr, the Next Group and the Bank of Scotland from Davis Duncan and Gleneagles Hotel and Frogmore Developments from Hugh Martin Architects.

SMC has also acquired architect Hickton Madeley, a practice based in the Midlands.